Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Abbas must restore order in Gaza

The Independent - April 25th 2007

Sir

Your report on the worsening security situation in the Gaza Strip ("Minister offers to quit in Gaza row", 24 April) might also have mentioned the abduction of the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. This week in Strasbourg, MEPs will add their voices to the appeals for his immediate release.

For years, the EU, engaged through the Quartet in the Middle East peace process, has offered financial support to the Palestinian Authority in return for security, democracy and human rights reforms. Egypt has also offered to help secure the Gaza Strip. But following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza the leaders of Fatah and Hamas have tragically let rivalries usurp responsibilities.

It would be a bitter irony if the Palestinian dream of nationhood - the story Alan Johnston most wanted to report - was scuppered by this festering internecine feud. President Mahmoud Abbas must now use his authority and move decisively to demonstrate to the world he can restore law and order in the Gaza Strip and bring about Mr Johnston's release. Let's hope it's not too late.

Dr Charles Tannock MEP
UK Conservative foreign affairs spolesman
European Parliament
Brussels