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Foreign Conflicts.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 23 November 2006

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Ceisteanna (57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

33 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has made representations to the Israeli Government concerning attacks by Israeli Defence forces in the Gaza Strip on 9 November 2006 which killed 19 persons (details supplied); the position of the Government regarding the maintenance of the EU Israel Association Agreement in view of Israeli human rights violations in Palestine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39584/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Damien English

Ceist:

41 Mr. English asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position of the Government regarding the recent statement by Hamas that they reject the notion of a two State solution in the Middle East; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39492/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

78 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland or the EU will take new initiatives to restore the peace process in Palestine leading to a cessation of rocket attacks on civilians in Israel, and a cessation of military incursions by the Israeli military into Gaza and the West Bank occupied territories. [39546/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

84 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the discussions he has held with his counterpart Ministers in Denmark, Slovakia and the United Kingdom at European Union level following the decision by these three nations to abstain from a recent United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning the recent loss of life in Gaza. [39521/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Perry

Ceist:

85 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has had conversations with his European counterparts regarding the negative effect Hamas’ rejection of a two State solution will have on the Middle East peace process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39493/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

96 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the current European Union policy towards, and views of, the ongoing conflict in Gaza, with reference to the recent United Nations Security Council Resolution at which different members of the EU failed to maintain a coherent and consistent line. [39522/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

102 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his and the Government’s views on the implications for European Union policy of the abstention of the United Kingdom and Denmark on the Security Council Resolution condemning the loss of civilians lives in recent Israeli attacks on Palestinian homes in Gaza. [39520/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Breen

Ceist:

204 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the action he is taking following the killing of civilians in Beit Hanoun in Gaza by the Israeli armed forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39771/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 41, 78, 84, 85, 96, 102 and 204 together.

The Government is deeply concerned by the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and especially by the rising toll of death and destruction in Gaza. We have conveyed our position clearly and consistently in direct contacts with the parties, including the Israeli Ambassador in Dublin and the Israeli Government in Jerusalem, in cooperation with our partners in the EU, and at the United Nations.

I have unreservedly condemned the killing of 18 civilians, including women and children, in the shelling of Beit Hanoun by the Israeli Defence Forces on 8 November. I also condemn the killing of an Israeli woman in rocket attacks on Sderot on 15 November. The Government has called very clearly for an immediate end to all violence. This includes the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the firing of rockets on Israel from Palestinian Territory.

The meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on 13 November strongly deplored the Israeli military action in Gaza and the unacceptable military operation in Beit Hanoun. The Council underlined that any military action should not be disproportionate or in contravention of international humanitarian law. The Government and our EU partners have reminded all parties of their duty to protect civilian lives. Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself against attack, but not at the expense of the lives and welfare of innocent civilians. I believe it was particularly important that Ministers agreed on such a strong message at the meeting of the Council and responded to the situation in this way, not least in view of the perception of possible differences of approach as a result of the votes cast on the draft Resolution in the UN Security Council on 11 November, which has been raised in a number of questions.

As Deputies will be aware also, an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly on 17 November adopted a Resolution, which was introduced by the Palestinian delegation, which calls on Israel to cease immediately military operations which endanger the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Territories and withdraw its forces from within the Gaza Strip to their positions prior to 28 June 2006. The Resolution also calls on the Palestinian Authority to take immediate and sustained action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets on Israeli territory. Following intensive coordination within the EU, in which our Permanent Mission to the United Nations was very actively involved, Ireland and all other EU Member States voted in favour of the Resolution.

The terrible violence of recent months underlines the urgent need to revive a credible peace process in the Middle East. There can be no military or unilateral solutions to the Israeli — Palestinian conflict. We have argued consistently that the only way forward for the Israeli and the Palestinian people is the negotiation of a viable two-State solution. The Government and our EU partners strongly support the continuing efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas to agree with Hamas and other Palestinian groupings on the formation of a national unity government. Given the context, it is not surprising that the negotiations have proved difficult, and that agreement has not yet been reached. There has been some evidence of differences of emphasis and approach in recent statements by spokesmen for Hamas.

I have stated on many occasions that if agreement can be reached on a government committed to the negotiation of a two-State solution and based clearly on an end to violence, Ireland will argue strongly for a generous and creative political response from the EU and the wider international community. The Council on 13 November stated that a government with a platform reflecting the Quartet principles and allowing for early engagement would be a partner for the international community in re-launching the peace process.

The Government is convinced that the efforts of the EU in the Middle East must focus on actions which will improve the prospects for the achievement of a two-State solution. The operation of the EU — Israel Association Agreement promotes the dialogue which is essential if progress is to be made in rebuilding the peace process. Meetings of the Association Council with Israel also provide the opportunity for the EU to highlight its concerns on the human rights implications of Israeli security policies. I do not believe that the suspension of the Agreement, which would require consensus within the European Union, or other measures to restrict contacts, would serve the interests of any of the parties.

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