* The Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) expresses its concern and deep anxiety about what has been happening in Gaza over the last few days, and in particular it deplores the number of civilian deaths caused by the Israeli aviation bombings. It also deplores the deaths of Israeli civilians caused by the shells launched from the Gaza territory. The Foundation feels directly concerned by the fact that the Gaza Islamic University was hit by bombs, as it is an institution belonging to our Palestinian network, which counts no less than 150 NGOs and cultural and academic institutions that represent the multiplicity of Palestinian society.
Since the beginning of the bombings, the Foundation has been working with the various NGOs in Gaza that form part of our Palestinian network, in order to be directly informed of the situation, and to be able to meet the expectations of the Palestinian civil society working for peace and dialogue. The Foundation recalls to mind that it recently organised a video conference with the participation of certain NGOs in Gaza and the two main universities there, where they described the extremely difficult conditions in which they work. This took place during the Euromed Civil Forum in Marseilles, just before the ministerial conference of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Even though it is not up to us to give our opinion on the political responsibilities which led to this dramatic situation, the Anna Lindh Foundation has always decried the unbearably isolated conditions in which more than a million and a half Gaza citizens have been living for months, stating that this added to the tensions which risk spreading to other countries, thus widening the breach between Arab public opinion and that of the European Union. What has happened over the last few days has confirmed this analysis. It represents a major obstacle to the understanding and cooperation between the peoples of the Euro-Mediterranean region, and worsens dramatically the humanitarian conditions in which the Gaza population lives. We uphold that it is a tragedy for all those who believe in dialogue as the most efficient weapon to resolve in a sustainable way the conflicts in the region.
The Anna Lindh Foundation shares the Israeli citizens’ legitimate worries about security but it asserts that these worries should find a political solution, in the framework of the ongoing diplomatic negotiations, rather than through actions that risk worsening the situation, in particular for the civilian populations. The Foundation hopes that the calls from the General Secretary of the UN, the main European leaders and the General Secretary of the Arab League can pave the way for a cease-fire that will make it easier for urgent and permanent humanitarian aid to reach the population of Gaza.
Engaged in Euro-Mediterranean dialogue which is its ‘raison d’être’, the Anna Lindh Foundation will continue to work with the civil societies of Palestine, Israel and the Middle-East countries, to create favourable conditions for peaceful coexistence between the peoples in the region. In view of the despondency and pessimism these events have provoked amongst many partisans for peace, we express our will to privilege dialogue between the peoples of the Euro-Mediterranean area as the most efficient way of finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflicts in the region.
The Anna Lindh Foundation’s task, in the coming months, is to develop actions that can contribute to the rebuilding of spaces for dialogue, coexistence and cooperation between the main organisations of the civil societies in the Middle East. It is in this direction that the Foundation’s Secretariat requests the organisations forming its networks, in the forty-three countries making up the Union for the Mediterranean, to develop actions favouring this task: actions that must be present in the main projects that will be developed in the program the Foundation has set up for the next three years.
* The Islamic Culture Foundation is a member of the spanish net of Anna Lindh Foundation