Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Next Week I will Visit the Middle East

This photo was taken in September 06 at the 600 kilometre Wall the Israeli government has built in contravention of a 2004 judgment by the International Court of Justice

April 1st 2009

Next Week I will Visit the Middle East

This blog is an internationalist. I have long been concerned about the plight of people throughout the globe. The conflict in the Middle East has been a long and enduring one. In my time I have raised the situation in that region, and particularly the need for a negotiated peace settlement, with US President Clinton and President Bush as well British PM Tony Blair.

In September 2006 I spent a brief 40 hours in Israel and the Palestinian territory on the west Bank. It was a very informative, exhausting and emotional journey.

I met with Palestinian and Israeli NGOs. I also received a detailed briefing from the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO on the 600 kilometre Wall that the Israeli government has built in contravention of a 2004 judgment by the International Court of Justice.

Rafiq Husseini, President Mahmoud Abbas’s Chief of Staff and other senior advisors received us in Ramallah and I spoke to President Abbas by phone.

I also met representatives of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) including representatives from Fatah, the Third Way , Abu Ali Mustafa, the Alternative bloc and Hamas. Later I was taken by Palestinian officials to visit Kalandia refugee camp which was opened in 1949 and is under the control of Israel. It has a population of just over 10,000 many of whom are entirely dependent in emergency food rations.
Conditions in the camp are appalling.

That was two and a half years ago. The Israeli government refused to meet with me at that time though in fairness to them they facilitated the visit and helped to make it run smoothly. Since that time the situation has seriously deteriorated, most clearly in the recent assault on Gaza by Israeli forces which left over 1400 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians. 13 Israelis have also been killed.

My purpose in travelling to the region again is to meet as wide a range of Israeli and Palestinian opinion as practicable.

So next week I will again visit Israel and Ramallah. But this time I will also travel into Gaza and Sderot and Ramallah where I will meet with senior members of the Palestinian Authority.

I again asked for a meeting with the Israeli government or with government officials. But again this has been refused because I will not give a commitment not to speak with Hamas representatives.

I very much regret the Israeli government decision.

As the leader of a party which was censored and demonized and whose members were killed, I see dialogue between all sides as key to building a successful peace process. So I will meet with all sides and urge all sides to end all armed actions and to engage in meaningful dialogue.

I believe there should be a complete cessation of all hostilities and freedom of movement for everyone.

The big challenge is to bring about a settlement on the basis of a two state solution.

This requires a sustainable and durable state for the Palestinian people. They share the region with their Israeli neighbours.

Without doubt the security of the people of Israel is linked inextricably to the rights, freedom and prosperity of the people of Palestine. They can co-exist peacefully together. I am certain about that.

Drawing comparisons between the peace process in Ireland and efforts to resolve the conflict in the Middle East would be foolhardy. There are similarities but there are also significant differences.

But it is clear that finding solutions will require leadership on both sides, and a willingness to take risks, initiatives, and compromise.

And it will need the international community, and particularly the USA, to play a very positive and active role. In this respect I welcome the appointment of George Mitchell as US Envoy to the Middle East.

So this blog journeys forth in the certainty of hope that political will can move mountains. It can certainly transform political conditions. Despite all the difficulties I am convinced that the conflict in the Middle East can be ended. A solution is possible. Everyone has a duty to do whatever we can, modest though that may be, to assist the process to bring this about.


Back Visteon Workers

Visteon Trade Union representatives and Workers along with Jennifer McCann, myself and Paul Maskey

The preparation for this trip comes during the usual madness of political life here. The big and very upsetting story at this time in west Belfast is the decision to close Visteon, car part manufacturers and part of the Ford Motor Company empire, with the loss of over 200 jobs. I spent this morning with my colleagues west Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann and Paul Maskey in the plant with the work force who are occupying the factory.

The treatment of the workforce by Visteon and Ford has been shabby and disgraceful. In our conversations with senior Visteon and Ford managers our objective has been to retain jobs at the plant. It is easier to retain jobs than to create new ones.

I believe that Ford has a responsibility to the work force. It must stand by its moral and contractual obligations to the workers.

I am also concerned at the role of Invest NI and whether it alerted the Minister to the seriousness of this situation. I also want to know what it was prepared to do to secure the future viability of this plant and of the 200 jobs here.

My colleagues Paul Maskey and Jennifer McCann and Sue Ramsay have already been in touch with the Department seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister, Arlene Foster.

It is also crucial that every effort is made to ensure that the skills resource is not lost and that these workers are not abandoned to the dole queue. We intend raising this matter with Minister Reg Empey at the Department of Learning.


And finally, if any so-called dissidents read this blog would they mind terribly explaining the rational behind the bomb hoaxes of recent days. In particular would some one take the time to explain how the Irish cause was served by closing St. Aidan’s Primary school in Ballymurphy or for that matter the eviction overnight of families in Islandbawn Street?


Timothy Dougherty said...

I to became a internationalist interested better world. After graduate school I spend a few years in that area of studies and earned a second minor within International Business.
I do see that your a lucky man to be in the Middle East during the Easter time, this brings home the the problems of in clear light to transforming political conditions. I would not think that the newly formed government would not think they have much use for a Gerry Adams to be about,even thought the need for a experienced and wise man is what would be at the core of their needs.NI needs many things and it seem like there has been little change from the Dock riots of 1919 Belfast for labor. Good Luck and Bail ó Dhia ort on your visit.

Lorna Byrne said...

Good luck with your trip Gerry.

In Print News said...


I'm new here and an American but none the less, I'm confused. I thought the Irish by their nature were more conservative and Christian than what I read about both here on your blog and on your organization's site.

I would love to see the land of my ancestors united and blessed but from what I can tell even if the land was united they would still be enslaved to socialist whims and desires. What about just empowering and emboldening people to be the best they can be as individuals and teach them and encourage them to utilize their God-given talents to achieve something greater than simply being wards of the socialist state?

In regards to the Middle East. First, why spend so much energy worrying about them? How could you possibly side with Muslim extremists? Since when do Christian find commonality with people who want to see us dead? I'm assuming your Catholic, is that a fair conclusion? Who's attacking who over there? If someone constantly picked a fight with you, wouldn't you feel compelled to do something to get them to stop? I feel this is what the Israelis are having to do.

I feel both you and your cause would get so much more support from your relatives and friends in the states if the causes you defend and support were in line with your history and the character of the great Irish people.

Oh and why can't we donate to you? I won't do so unless there is a open recantation from being a socialist organization but even still...

Paul Doran said...

Gerry. Good luck in the Middle East
The use of religion in this area by both factions is a tried and trusted formula used by all Governments throughtout the Globe and as usual the common man and woman suffer because of it.Talking does not hurt anyone.I commend the workers in Belfast, The workers at Waterford Crystal did the same, They are to be congratulated.

Maire said...

Gerry, good luck on your trip.
I have 2 uncles who worked at that plant; they are pensioners now. What they told me was that the only reason they were able to get a job there, was because the spelling of our family name is the Protestant version.
And the Ford company is supposed to be the one with the least financial woes....

Anonymous said...

What is the purpose of Sinn Fein being in government?

Linda Coleman said...

Best wishes to you, Gerry, and thanks again for all your hard work and dedication on behalf of peacemaking and the rights of workers.

To "In Print News," I'd like to ask what is our role as Christians in the world, if not to serve the needs of "the least of these," regardless of political affiliation?

My church is always being attacked by conservatives for our support of the Palestinian people (google search UMCOR Gaza for reference), and my question to our critics is, "Who would Jesus exclude?"

And speaking of politics, how do you think Jesus would lean politically, if he were walking among us today? Sure, he'd find faults in all our political parties, but I know one thing for sure--he wouldn't side with any party who exploited workers in order to increase the riches of the already wealthy!

qubol said...

best of luck in Palestine Gerry, I hope that you are able to bring more attention to the plight of our Palestinian friends and the intolerable conditions forced upon them by the Isrealis.

I'd also like to suggest an idea - Could you create separate posts for you stories instead of one big post?

Anonymous said...

Why did Sir Orde chose cowardice over courage when he deliberately choose not to put the SAS decision on the table before the policing boards as any decision of this magnitude with its quite obvious ramifications would require in any true democracy?
This is a most fundamental question that has not been truthfully answered.
Without honesty and transparency there is no future, if Northern Ireland is to be considered a democracy whether now or in the future.

Abe Bird said...

What do you intend to say to the Arab Falsetinains rebels, Mr. Gerry Adams? That it is a just and honorable task to suicide bomb and sending rockets over non-Muslims?
Do you comply with the Islamic desire to turn the globe (Dahr el Hard, the region of war and conquers) into one Islamic colony where Christians will force to become Muslims or will be executed?
The Irish revolution was against the British occupies but the Islamic rebelling is not because of the Israeli occupation but because the very existence of Israel in the most Islamic region: Dahr el Islam, ruled by Islam. Islamic terror was before 1967 and after, and the Arab population always adopted vehemently the terror as a weapon to kill Jews as far and as wide as possible. It is not a territorial dispute as the Arabs tries to paint but the acceptance of the idea that Jews have the right for their national home in the land of Israel aka Palestine.

Let me remind you that the first Zionists, the political Jewish activists, adored the Shinn pain and had connections prior to the WWII. Your ideological forefathers saw Zionism as a national movement that aim to liberate the Jewish people in order to fix a state in the cradle of Jude-Christianity land.

At the first half of the 20th century we are not identify any roots of a real Arab "Palestinian" people. When people were talking about Palestine they meant the Holy Land and the Land of Israel. At that time the Arabs formed themselves as the Arab people as a whole. Most of The Palestinian Arabs were Syrians ("Southern Syria"), and they were mainly immigrants from the entire Islamic world.

The solution for the political problem is 2 states, by dividing Palestine in two. The Arab Palestinian will rule the eastern Part of Palestine from the Jordan River to the desert and the Jews will have the western part of Palestine from the River to the sea. Arabs in both countries will be the citizens of Palestinian Jordan (Most of the Jordanian themselves are Palestinians) and will vote to their Parliament in Amman. Jews in both countries (If the Arabs will let Jews to live in their place) will be the citizens of Israel and will vote for the Knesset in Jerusalem. Arabs will be residents in Israel and Jews will be residents in Jordan.

I think that this suggestion is the best and the very likely to be implemented from all other partial suggestions.

Taru said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


mnbthr said...

RE: "In Print News"

As a British man who grew up with his innocent countrymen who had nothing to do with the NI situation being murdered by the IRA, I have a natural suspicion of Gerry and SF (combined with sympathy for the Republican and Loyalist causes).

However, I admire his and SF's efforts to lead the community to peace and absolutely agree with his views on the Palestinian conflict.

Why waste so much energy? Largely because it is arguably the most important conflict facing the world and has been for some time. It is the most legitimate beef of the muslim world, the Palestinians really for decades have been, and still are being, unjustly, disproportionately crushed by the Israeli Army.

To view them all as "Muslim extremists" is to totally ignore the horror that the Palestinians are subjected to on a regular basis, it dehumanises them. Most are innocent people, just like you and your family, how would you deal with the Israeli onslaught? Get angry? I bet you would.

To compare situations, you want a united Ireland against the wishes of the slim majority of the people in NI which, however controversial and imperfect, is a recognised nation. However, you appear to feel that the Palestinians who have had their territory occupied illegaly for decades by Israel (who have built settlements outside their legal borders) are fanatical and unreasonably if they express anger.

It would be well worth looking at the figures of how many people have been killed on either side, a quick look at those figures and you will realise far from limited self defence the Israeli's have murdered simply HUGE numbers more innocent civilians. A suicide bomber blows himself up in Tel Aviv, kills 10 people it's a horrific tragedy that rightly garners international coverage. But we only get coverage of Palestinians being killed when it stretches into 3 figures, e.g. the last conflict.

Israel are in a horrible situation and I feel for those who live with regular Qassam rocket attacks and the like, but their foreign policy is horrendously heavy handed. It can loosely be summarised as 100 eyes for an eye, 100 teeth for a tooth - last conflict 1300 Palestinians killed (mostly civilians), 13 Israeli's killed. To put that into perspective in the Troubles in NI the security forces combined killed 368 from 1969-2001 (the IRA and related groups killed 2057 in the same period).

This is beside the point. The point as Gerry makes is that you can blame the other side all you like (and you're argument is WAY stronger if you sympathise with the Palestinians), but until both sides stop fighting and start talking you just wont end the cycle of violence.

Also socialism may be a dirty word in US politics, but it is a moderate left wing position to most of the world.

Finally SF, at least in NI, don't really need donations, they're largely funded by the UK tax payer. I'm sure they recognise that weening the community off this generous public funding lifeline will be a challenge should they get their wish for a united Ireland.

Patrick Lismore said...

Listen to this citizens view about the workers on protest in the old ford plant

Your Assembly Your Say Belfast 7th April @ the Grand Opera House

Steven said...

No Gerry, your photo was not taken at the 600km Wall the Israelis have built. There is no such Wall. For most of its length the security barrier is a fence and not a wall. It is only a wall where there is a direct risk of sniper attacks and a fence would not stop such attacks. The fence is easily movable and has been moved on a number of occasions thanks to the Israeli supreme court. Does it matter that its called a Wall and the impression is given that it is an immovable 6000km concrete frontier? Yes it does. Without the attacks there would be no barrier, it is not there to carve out a new border but is needed sadly to protect lives. Without it there would be even more Israeli interference in Palestinian lives because there would need to be more troops on the ground and more road blocks to stop suicide bombers and other attacks. Over 1000 Israelis were killed before Israel built the barrier. Gerry, the walls which protect your own communities are also obscene, but do you think your people want them taken down?