Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (108, 109)

Finian McGrath

Question:

220 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he raised the issue of the civil rights of the Palestinian minority, in particular the question of building permits and house demolitions, when he met Israeli leaders during the course of his recent visit to Israel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2315/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

Our position on the civil rights of the Arab citizens of Israel is well known to the Government of Israel. The specific matters referred to did not arise during my recent discussions in Israel. The wider context, including its humanitarian and human rights aspects, was discussed at some length.

Finian McGrath

Question:

221 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the matters discussed and conclusions reached at his meeting with the Palestinian Authority Minister, Nabil Shaath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2316/04]

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My discussions with Dr. Shaath focused mainly on the Middle East peace process. We also discussed the ways in which the European Union could assist in reviving the road map and encouraging renewed contacts between the parties as well as developments at the United Nations. Dr. Shaath briefed me on the situation and the difficulties facing the Palestinian Authority. I briefed him on my plans to visit Israel and Egypt and our approach to the Middle East conflict as EU Presidency. He expressed appreciation for the traditionally constructive approach that Ireland adopts to the conflict.