Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Ceisteanna (110)

Bernard Durkan


110. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which efforts continue in the Middle East peace process, in particular with reference to the need for permanent structures to encourage progress in Gaza; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46609/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I have given a high priority to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly the situation in the Gaza strip, 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. For example, in February of this year I convened a small gathering of Foreign Ministers in Dublin in February, 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. I raised the Israel-Palestine conflict in my meetings with a range of interlocutors, including 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 have always thought it important to keep this issue high on the international agenda, and 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 (56 UN states), including common EU support.

Ireland has long worked to keep attention on Gaza in particular. In my most recent visit to Gaza last year, I saw for myself the impact the blockade is having. Ireland contributes humanitarian assistance to alleviate the worst of this suffering, including through our support for UNRWA, which is a key provider of public services, health and education in the area. I have initiated an Irish-funded solar power project in Gaza, which will be co-located with a waste water facility and will help improve water quality in the area.

However, the roots of the problem in Gaza are political and cannot be solved by funding alone. What is needed is the lifting of the blockade, so that normal life and normal economic activity can resume. Gaza faces other challenges, including oppressive rule by Hamas, but the blockade dominates peoples’ lives in Gaza to such an extent that it is difficult to address other issues. I have raised the issue of the blockade with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

I will continue to ensure that the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in Gaza remain high on the international agenda.