André Ventura in parliament. Image: Lusa
André Ventura (right) in parliament. Image: Lusa

CHEGA threatens to abstain over parliamentary text on Israel/ Hamas conflict

Party leader says CHEGA “will not accept ambiguous language”

Portugal’s right-wing party CHEGA has threatened to abstain from the vote on a parliamentary text regretting the conflict between Israel and Hamas, unless the wording is changed.

CHEGA leader André Ventura said today that: “It must be clear that it was Hamas that started this war, which is a terrorist group, and that it is attacking a State that has an elected, legitimate government and whose civilians have been attacked without reason, giving Israel the right to intervene militarily” and “neutralise the threat”.

CHEGA “will not accept any vote that leaves the language ambiguous“, he said. It is important that “common sense prevails” so as not to create confusion “about which side Portugal is on”.

This is just the latest hiccup in Portugal’s perceived response as a nation to the developing conflict. 

Yesterday in parliament, the prime minister defended, on a number of occasions, the necessity – expressed by UN secretary general António Guterres – for a ceasefire, while President Marcelo has not changed his position that Israel is well within its rights to respond to Hamas’ terrorist attack of October 7 in which hundreds were massacred, and many people, including the very young and very old, were taken as hostages.

According to André Ventura, CHEGA is still “working with the committee” on Foreign Affairs to make changes to the parliamentary text so that the vote clearly indicates “that the terrorist group Hamas is to blame for starting this war”.

“If the text stays exactly” as it is now, he stressed, “it’s likely there will be an abstention (…) We have to take the side of those who are defending themselves (…) At a time when there are hostages who have been taken, and hundreds of terrorists in an area, Israel cannot simply open the area. There is no negotiation possible until Hamas hands over the hostages”, Ventura insisted. At that point ‘there can be talk of humanitarian issues…’

According to Lusa, the PS and PSD (main opposition party) reached agreement on a joint text today that “absolutely condemns” the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel and emphasises that Israel has the right to defend itself “within the framework of international law”.

“The vote of regret, to which the Lusa news agency has had access, is a merger of two texts initially presented in the Foreign Affairs Committee by the Portugal-Israel Friendship Parliamentary Group and by Livre and which has been agreed in recent days between the PS and PSD benches”, says the State news agency. ND