Damaged building at Gaza airport/Photo: Wikipedia
Eduardo González. Madrid
A few days after the Spanish Government announced in Cairo a 36 million fund to help with reconstruction in the Gaza strip, the Spanish Congress has this week rejected a non-law initiative aimed at demanding damages from Israel for the destruction of Gaza airport, built 16 years ago thanks to, in great part, to Spanish financing, and closed two years later due to bombings.
Gaza’s Yasser Arafat airport has become a struggle for Spanish diplomacy in the Middle East. The installations were inaugurated in 1998 thanks to EU financing, which included an important Spanish contribution of 20.5 million euros (nearly one third of the total), which was awarded through eight Development Aid Funds (FAD in Spanish) awarded by the Felipe Gonzalez and José María Aznar governments.
The airport was closed only two years after its inauguration, due to the successive Israeli attacks, which left it in ruins. Spain has never requested damages or compensation from Israel. One fifth of the 4,300 million euros issued last Sunday by the International Community to the Palestinian Authority (including Spain’s 36 million euros) will be spent precisely on rehabilitating infrastructures such as the port and the airport in Gaza.
The Congress has pushed back the leftist groups’ initiative
Last Wednesday eight leftist parties in the Spanish Congress – Izquierda Plural (IU-ICV-CHA) and the Grupo Mixto formation: Amaiur, ERC, the Galician Nationalist Block (BNG), Nueva Canarias (NC), Compromís-Equo and Geroa Bai- presented a bill before the Foreign Relations Committee, in which they asked Spain to sue Israel for the destruction of Gaza airport, an infrastructure “indispensable to breaking the isolation suffered by the population of the strip”.
The proposal was rejected that same day, in the Foreign Relations Committee in Congress, with votes against PP, PSOE, UPyD and CiU. The PNV abstained from the vote, arguing that what should be demanded of Israel is that they “participate in the reconstruction of Gaza”, for being “the child that broke the toy”.
In addition, all parties, except those that signed it, rejected another proposal that demanded the suspension of the association agreement that the European Union has with Israel since 1995, considering Tel Aviv has incurred in a “flagrant violation of article 2” of this accord, which states that the signatories “respect democratic principles and human rights”. Nor was any headway made, with the PSOE’s abstention, by a proposal that arms dealings we suspended between Spain and Israel, due to the breach of international law relating to Human Rights and the Geneva Convention.