Denmark sends emergency help to Gaza

Denmark will send an additional 25 million kroner in aid to Palestinian children in Gaza as Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard prepares to visit both Israel and Palestine next week.

Denmark sends emergency help to Gaza
Palestinian children play next to their homes in Beit Lahia in the northern of Gaza Strip on October 20th. Photo: Mohammed Abed/Scanpix
The trade and development minister, Mogens Jensen, has announced a new 25 million kroner ($4.2 million) emergency package aimed at getting Palestinian children back into school.
“The situation in Gaza is extremely serious and the massive destruction of schools, health clinics and agricultural land has made it hard for Palestinians to get back to everyday life, which was already difficult,” Jensen said in a statement. 
The development minister added that the destruction resulting from the 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas should not take a back seat to other international challenges. 
“Despite Ebola and ISIL’s [an alternative name for Isis, ed.] ravages, the mass exodus from Syria and the famines threatening South Sudan and Somalia, we mustn't forget the Palestinians and the many children in Gaza. They are suffering and thus need our help and attention,” Jensen said. 
Shortly after the outbreak of violence in Gaza in early July, Denmark also sent an emergency package of 11 million kroner ($1.8 million). 
The United Nations has estimated that 373,000 children in Gaza will "require direct and specialised psycho-social support" this school year. According to the UN, more than 500 children were killed during the latest conflict with Israel.
In announcing the new contributions, the Foreign Ministry said that it continues to support a two-state solution for peace between Israel and Palestine. Last week, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said that Denmark would not follow Sweden’s lead in recognising Palestine as a state. Thorning-Schmidt also declined to attach her name to a letter from the social democratic leaders of the other four Nordic countries condemning Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard also announced that he would visit both Israel and Palestine this week, meeting with high level representatives from both sides. 
“It’s important for me to see the conditions on the ground firsthand in this all too long and tragic conflict and to hear from the central players how we can move forward and create peace and security for both sides, along with better living conditions for the Palestinians,” Lidegaard said. 

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Denmark votes against recognizing Palestine

Despite parliament shooting down a proposal from the left-wing to recognize Palestine now, the foreign minister has opened the door for Denmark to do it sooner rather than later.

Denmark votes against recognizing Palestine
ActionAid Denmark's director Frans Mikael Jansen (r) handed FM Martin Lidegaard 34,500 signatures calling for Denmark to recognize Palestine. Photo: Nikolai Linares/Scanpix
A bill that called on Denmark to recognize Palestine as a state was shot down in parliament as expected on Thursday.
But despite the no vote, the foreign minister nonetheless suggested that Denmark could be a step closer to recognizing a Palestinian state. 
In a departure from the Danish government’s previous statements, Martin Lidegaard said Denmark is prepared to recognize Palestine even without a two-state solution firmly in place. 
“We are in line with the many countries who feel that this is such an important decision that we should wait to make it until we feel like it can actually affect the peace process. We don’t think that is now, but on the other hand we don’t necessarily think that we need to wait until the end of the peace process,” Lidegaard said during Thursday’s debate, as quoted by Politiken. 

Later taking to Twitter, he “supported” recognizing Palestine but only “when it can contribute to peace”. 

“I don’t think that’s now. It requires the EU,” the foreign minister wrote. 
The advocacy group ActionAid Denmark (Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke) on Thursday handed Lidegaard a petition with around 35,000 signatures calling for Denmark to recognize Palestine.