Written Answers. - Middle East Peace Process.

Phil Hogan

Question:

22 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details of negotiations he and his Department had regarding the two Palestinian activists who were transported to Ireland via Cyprus. [15016/02]

Acting in support of an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government which brought a peaceful resolution to the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the European Union agreed that thirteen of the Palestinians who had taken refuge in the church would be received by member states and offered temporary residence. I announced on 13 May that the Government of Ireland would be one of those to offer residence to one of the men. Initially, the Government of Cyprus agreed to host the men until their eventual destinations could be worked out between the EU member states. At the General Affairs Council on 13 May, six member states indicated that they would receive one or more of the affected Palestinians. These were Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain. In the end, Spain and Italy took three men each, while Ireland, Greece and Portugal took two each. One of them was permitted to remain in Cyprus by the Government of that country.

On 17 May the EU agreed a Common Position setting out the terms under which the Palestinians were to be received in the various member states and the conditions under which they would be allowed to remain. Two of the Palestinians arrived in Ireland on 23 May.