Portuguese government calls for Middle East strategy

THE PORTUGUESE government has called on the European Union to take strategic action in ending the crisis in the Middle East.

Both the PSD and CDS-PP parties have accused Lebanon of the current crisis between Israel and Hezbollah, for not reigning in the extreme Islamic militant Shiite organisation. The left wing parties, excluding the governing PS, are blaming Israel for the conflict.

Luís Amado, in his first address to the parliament as new Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that Portugal would be willing to create a peace force in Lebanon, as “the complexity of the situation required a military presence”, and that a Portuguese force would form part of an EU peace force. Amado was careful not to point the finger of blame at any one side in the crisis, which blew up last month when two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah close to the Israeli border.

Both the PSD and the CDS-PP have already condemned Hezbollah, who they consider responsible for the crisis. Both parties say they agree to a Portuguese presence in an international EU peace-keeping force. However, communist deputy António Filipe has accused the government of “not taking a position” and of “waiting on the sidelines for an EU decision”.

PCP, the Greens and Bloco de Esquerda lay the blame for the crisis at the doorstep of Israel, saying they overacted to the kidnapping with a response that was not measured.