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Middle East Issues

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 April 2014

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Questions (27)

Mick Wallace


27. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has taken any action at European Union level in relation to the release of Palestinian prisoner, Marwan Barghouti; if he has raised this issue with the Israeli Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15397/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

There has been no discussion at EU level in relation to bringing about the release of Marwan Barghouti, nor has the Tánaiste raised the issue with the Israeli Government.

Marwan Barghouti was sentenced in 2004 to five life sentences for murder, having been convicted of involvement in a number of attacks, including a suicide attack on Israeli civilians. He is nonetheless often reported as now being opposed to the use of violence in actions such as those he was convicted of. Other reports, however, dispute this. The Israeli authorities have steadily refused to include him in any of the prisoner release deals that have taken place from time to time, including those provided for as part of the current US-led talks process. As we know ourselves, such issues can be very sensitive and difficult in any country.

There have been suggestions from various commentators, including some in Israel, that if released he could potentially play a positive part in bringing about a political settlement of the conflict, and could be an eventual moderate successor to President Abbas. If he was able and willing to play such a role, I would of course hope that he would do so, and encourage the authorities to respond creatively to such an opportunity. But at this time I have no basis on which to form a judgement on such a difficult question.