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German Parliament Demands an End to Gaza Blockade

Germany’s Parliament has passed a cross-party motion demanding that Israel end its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In a joint motion passed Thursday evening, five mainstream parties said the isolation of Gaza was not in Israel’s security interests. The text also decried weapons smuggling into Gaza and rocket attacks against Israel, and said they, too, must be stopped.

Joining in what has been described as a rare show of united criticism of Israel in Germany were the conservative Christian Democratic Union, party of Chancellor Angela Merkel; its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union; the center-right Free Democratic Party, which is in the governing coalition; the opposition Social Democratic Party; and the Green Party.

Ahead of the vote, the Central Council of Jews in Germany expressed “great concern” about a growing political tendency in Germany to “hold Israel alone responsible” for the escalation in tensions in the Middle East.

The vote suggests that mainstream German politicians want to close the gap between official, long-time support for Israel and growing public disaffection with Israeli policies.

According to the Deutsche Welle German public news agency, the socialist Left Party also backed the motion. Three members of the Left Party had been on the Turkish flotilla that challenged the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade in late May. Nine people were killed and several dozen injured after Israeli naval forces boarded the ships to redirect them to an Israeli port on May 31.

Israel already has eased the blockade, allowing the overland delivery of most civilian goods.

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