Irish government needs to act on Palestine (from 2nd September)
The Israeli government has decided to seize 400 hectares of Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank. This is said to be the largest land grab in 30 years. Coming in the wake of the recent widely welcomed ceasefire in Gaza this is a profoundly negative and retrograde development. It raises serious questions again about the Israeli government’s commitment to peace and a negotiated 2 state settlement. Of course this latest provocation is in line with the ongoing building of settlements and the Separation Wall, home demolitions, movement restrictions and detentions. The recent Israeli Government aggression against the Occupied Gaza Governorates ran in parallel with the oppression in the rest of the Occupied State of Palestine.
I have been raising the need for the Irish government to take the lead within the European Union on the issue of peace in the Middle East, and the need for the international community to uphold international law for a very long time now. Since my election to the Dáil I have raised this directly with the Taoiseach in writing, in the Dáil chamber, on the eve of EU summit meetings, and in the wake of particular developments in the Middle East.
So far Mr Kenny has ignored what I have to say. When I say ignored I don’t mean that he hasn’t responded. I mean he hasn’t acted.
So this week I wrote to him again. I also wrote to a number of EU premiers. This is a copy of my letter:
“A Thaoisigh, a chara,
Like me, I am sure you will welcome the latest ceasefire announcement in Gaza. Hopefully this can lead to a resolution and an end to recurring onslaughts against the Palestinian people.
The international community must now ensure that the ceasefire is respected and sustained but what is also clear is the need for a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It cannot be acceptable for this conflict to erupt with depressing frequency every few years leading to thousands of needless deaths.
With this in mind I have written to a number of EU premiers asking them to work to obtain a resolution at the United Nations Security Council requesting the resumption of serious peace negotiations within a defined period of time.
These should be aimed at securing a two-State solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the borders of 4th of June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its Capital. All European states should now formally recognize the State of Palestine.
I believe also that European states should support the deployment of a UN protection force in Gaza on the lines of that deployed in Kosovo.
I am asking that you support this approach and that you head up an initiative on behalf of the Irish State to achieve these objectives.
It is clear that the people of Gaza need urgent and massive humanitarian aid. There is now a pressing need to rebuild Gaza. There are now 450,000 people there without homes. There is no electricity, no running water and no sewage system as hundreds of thousands of boys and girls are due to start a new school year. The international community must begin immediately to restore the food, medical, fuel, and electricity needs of 1.7 million people.
The people of Gaza and of the Palestinian territories need hope. They need to believe that there is a real possibility of positive change in their conditions. They need their rights as human beings and their national rights as Palestinians respected and upheld by the international community. They also need to know that international law will be respected.
The Irish Government must do all that it can to ensure that international law is upheld and I ask that you use your influence within the European Union to advance this.
I have travelled to the region on several occasions and have met many of the representatives of the Palestinian people, including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. I also met Israeli citizens and NGOs. In my conversations I have stressed that inclusive dialogue, involving substantive and inclusive negotiations, and involving all of the participants is the only way forward. They need the help of the international community to achieve this. I would appeal to you to use your influence positively in this regard.”