Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Questions (117)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

117. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which Ireland is actively working towards bringing about a two-state future for Israel and Palestine further to his statement on Israeli settlements policy of 20 November 2019; if there are further developments on foot of earlier meetings he has held on the peace process for Israel and Palestine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50043/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I have given a high priority to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the last two years, and have worked consistently to maintain an international focus on the issue, and support for the two state solution.

I regularly discuss this situation with my counterparts in the EU and the region, and I have remained engaged with the small group of participants who gathered in Dublin in February of this year, to discuss the Middle East Peace Process, and how best to encourage a move towards a just and durable peace.

The Israel-Palestine conflict also featured in several of my discussions and meetings during the High-Level Week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, including in my meeting the Secretary General of the League of Arab States. I also met with senior White House advisor Jared Kushner to discuss the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in the region. In that meeting I clearly conveyed Ireland's encouragement for any efforts that can bring genuine progress, while also making clear Ireland's support for the long-agreed parameters, which any new Middle East peace initiative would need to include, in order to have a realistic prospect of being acceptable to both parties. I also communicated Ireland’s well known views on settlements. All settlement activity is illegal under international law, and that view represents the settled international consensus. I have been unequivocal about this in public statements whenever the question of settlements has arisen.

Ireland continues to support action on the ground by providing humanitarian assistance and working on specific projects to improve the situation of Palestinians, particularly in Gaza. Ireland has so far provided €5 million to UNRWA in 2019, with additional funding of €2 million in the process of being disbursed. I have also initiated an Irish-funded solar power project in Gaza, which will help to alleviate the critical shortage of power in Gaza. The power generated will be used to improve water quality in the area.

However, funding alone cannot solve the conflict. I am committed to do everything I can to make a positive contribution to support credible efforts to resume meaningful negotiations and to advance the Middle East Peace Process. In December 2018, Ireland proposed a Resolution at the UN General Assembly on a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This Resolution, which reaffirmed the long-standing and broadly agreed parameters for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was adopted by an overwhelming majority, including common EU support.

The international environment is important, but the parties themselves are key to this process, and I think it is important to continue to engage with both, in order to explore potential for future progress, even when the situation is very difficult. From 2-4 December, I will visit Israel and Palestine for the fourth time in my current role. I will meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss the current situation, and will again highlight Ireland's views on settlements and a number of other issues. I am also planning to visit Gaza and meet with UNRWA and other UN officials, as well as visiting the site of the solar project which Ireland is funding.

I will continue to ensure that the Middle East Peace Process remains high on the international agenda.