Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion, a key member of an official EU delegation to Pakistan next week, has warned that any solution to the long-running Kashmir conflict cannot ignore the wishes of the local population.
At a seminar at the European Parliament which he co-sponsored, Dr Bennion said increasing dialogue between the Indian and Pakistan governments was 'a clear opportunity' for progress to genuine reconciliation, but that any temptation for a bilateral carve-up of Kashmir without a plebiscite of the local population should be resisted.
Lib Dem Euro MPs are pressing the EU Transport Commissioner to clarify the safety status of PIA, Pakistan's national airline, after recent action to improve maintenance procedures on planes based in Pakistan.
West Midlands MEP Phil Bennion and four colleagues have written to Siim Kallas to explain what the Commission's view is of Pakistan's airline safety regime and whether there is any possibility of a ban on PIA flights from EU airports.
Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion has highlighted the continuing damage done to prospects for a renewed Middle East peace process by the Israeli policy of arbitrary arrest and administrative detention without trial of 4,800 Palestinians.
Dr Bennion spoke out after members of the European Parliaments' Palestine Delegation (DPLC) took part in an international meeting on "Freedom and Dignity" in Ramallah, Palestine, to discuss the ongoing problem of the arbitrary arrest and detention without trial or charge of Palestinian political prisoners by the Israeli authorities.
I recently attended an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The agenda had one item, an account given in person by Mahmoud Sarsak, a young Palestinian footballer held in administrative detention for 3 years without charge by the Israeli authorities.
Responding to the speech by Israeli President Shimon Peres in the European Parliament, Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion welcomed his 'positive remarks' on the potential for reconciliation but urged Israel's new government to take the necessary action to get peace talks moving once more.
The West Midlands MEP, a member of the Parliament's Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, welcomed Mr Peres' statement that 'peace between Israel and Palestine is possible' and that remaining 'disputed issues can and should be negotiated as soon as possible.
As a Member of the Employment Committee, I'm able to contribute to the Liberal Group position on a variety of issues. I'm particularly involved in work to supporting Small Businesses (for more information please see my "Boosting SMEs" page) but am also involved with issues like "eco-innovation". I'm also keen to ensure a good deal for our farmers, and have worked closely with Liberal colleagues from the Employment Committee and the Agriculture Committee to ensure that new proposals for the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund, don't end up hurting farmers by shifting money from the Common Agricultural Policy.
I've been using my influence to try and steer the debates in the Committee in a more sensible direction, highlighting the practical problems with some of the fluffy policy ideas being floated. I consult with stakeholders from Business, NGOs, the European Commission, and crucially from the UK civil service based in Brussels (UKREP) to make sure that I have a well rounded view when making important decisions.
On top of being a "transport enthusiast", I am convinced that an effective, ambitious and innovative European transport policy is essential not only for growth and jobs, but also for European, and notably UK, citizens. Establishing the right European Transport policy is key to encouraging and promoting mobility, labour mobility, cultural and educational mobility but also tourism mobility. We also need to do much more to better connect Europe with efficient and sustainable transport links, to improve road safety, to develop our European Union external aviation policy to remain a hub in the world, and to support SMEs. Those are my top priorities as the Liberal Democrats transport Spokesperson in the European Parliament
As a substitute Member of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council (DPLC) I follow the situation on the ground in the Palestinian Territories, Israel, and the surrounding countries which are affected by the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict.
Though the Palestinian Legislative Council itself does not currently function, the Delegation continues to monitor the situation of Palestinians on the ground and the ongoing political developments.
The most pressing issue that is raised with us is the situation of refugees, many of whom are now the descendents (second and third generation) of refugees displaced following the 6 day war, and who have lived outside of what was once Palestine for all of their lives.
As such these "stateless persons" enjoy no citizenship of any state, and are primarily supported by aid through the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and to a lesser extent the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Our work due to its basis on the Palestinian political situation is by nature focussed on the situation of Palestinians, rather than Israelis, though this is counterbalanced by the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Israel.
Despite this Palestinian focus, I and my colleagues try to remain objective and neutral - looking at the political failings, whatever their root causes which result in the humanitarian problems which blight ordinary people in the region.
We as a delegation continue to call for a peaceful, political resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, based on a two state solution, a safe and secure state of Israel, and a viable, economically and politically independent Palestinian State.
For more information please see the following links:
European Parliament Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council
United Nations Relief Works Agency
United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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