Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (228, 229)

Gerry Adams

Question:

228. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he raised the issue of the conflict in the middle east at the EU summit in December 2012. [2333/13]

View answer

Gerry Adams

Question:

229. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he raised the issue of illegal Israeli settlement building at the EU summit in December 2012. [2334/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 and 229 together.

The conflict in the Middle East was discussed in the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 December 2012 and again at the 18 February meeting of the Council.

Because of its wide and destructive implications for the Middle East peace process, the settlements issue almost invariably arises in discussions of this conflict. Ireland has been particularly to the fore in focussing attention on this issue and in pressing for stronger EU and international action on it. I have consistently stressed the importance I attach to this matter, both here in the House and at EU level.

The December Foreign Affairs Council adopted Conclusions on the Middle East which included the following statement on settlements:

“The European Union is deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem,

and in particular plans to develop the E1 area. The E1 plan, if implemented, would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution

of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.

It could also entail forced transfer of civilian population. In the light of its core objective of achieving the two-state solution, the EU will closely

monitor the situation and its broader implications, and act accordingly. The European Union reiterates that settlements are illegal under

international law and constitute an obstacle to peace.”

The focus of discussion at this week’s meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council was on the overall political process, particularly following the re-election of President Obama, the appointment of the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the recent Israeli election. I discussed with my colleagues the prospects for restarting the negotiations track, and in particular how we might encourage the new US team to give a priority to making progress on the MEPP.