From Iceland — Multiple Parliamentary Parties Condemn Attacks On Gaza

Multiple Parliamentary Parties Condemn Attacks On Gaza

Published May 20, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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MPs for the Social Democrats, the Reform Party and the Centre Party in Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee moved to have their condemnation of the IDF air strikes on Gaza made a matter of public record yesterday, RÚV reports. Fréttablaðið reports that an observer for the Pirate Party on the committee supported the objection, but the Left-Greens, the Progressive Party and the Independence Party did not.

Social Democrat MP Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir, addressing Parliament during procedural affairs, said that it was unacceptable that air strikes are being used against civilians, and criticised other MPs for not taking a public position on the matter.

Standing with human rights or not?

“It must be pointed out that neither MPs for the Leftist-Greens nor the Progressive Party joined us in our committee objections that were submitted and approved by MPs of the other parties,” she said. “This is disappointing and it is incredible that the MPs of these parties do not trust themselves to take a clear position on human rights, but are instead under the heel of the Independence Party when it comes to the simple role of a filed objection of the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Amongst the abstentions [to the 2011 resolution to recognise Palestine] was current Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, who has also not condemned the current air strikes on Gaza but instead called for “both sides” to cease hostilities.

Fréttablaðið reports that the Progressive Party did later on issue a statement condemning the air strikes, saying in part, “Violence against civilians increases hopelessness, hopelessness leads to hate and to a vicious circle that needs to end. In peace, hope is found.”

Progressives issue statement

Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, an MP for the Progressives, told reporters that they opted to send a statement of condemnation of their own due to parliamentary procedural reasons, nothing that filed objections at committee meetings are not typically used to take a position on a particular matter.

While the Left-Greens parliamentary party did issue a statement last Friday condemning the air strikes, Prime Minister and party chair Katrín Jakobsdóttir has taken a more cautious tone.

The Prime Minister’s and Foreign Minister’s positions

When referring to her meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last Tuesday, she said on the subject of Gaza: “I went over Iceland’s position. We recognised Palestine as a sovereign nation [in 2011] and the secretary is aware of our position that we emphasise a two-state solution. We were in agreement that the most important step now is a cease fire, that the attacks stop and that civilians stop losing their lives in these attacks.”

When asked if she believed the US was doing enough to bring peace to the region, she said, “I hope they are aiming for peaceful solutions and I feel that they are.”

It bears mentioning for context that when Parliament passed the resolution in 2011 to recognise Palestine as a sovereign and independent nation, 38 parliamentarians voted in favour and 13 abstained. Amongst the abstentions was current Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, who has also not condemned the current air strikes on Gaza but instead called for “both sides” to cease hostilities.

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