Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, has called for an immediate end to hostilities between Israel and Palestine, and peace deal to be negotiated immediately.
Crowe has also called on the EU to place greater pressure on Israel to enter serious negotiations after raising the issue with the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Dáil earlier this week.
Deputy Crowe today said:
“I am extremely concerned at recent military attacks in Israel and Gaza, and I regret the loss of life and serious injuries suffered by innocent civilians as a result of this latest outbreak of conflict.
“Israel has been increasing its aerial and naval bombardment of the Gaza Strip in recent days. The Gaza Strip, which is only about the size of County Louth, has a population of over 1.6 million. In my opinion, it is inevitable that Israel’s attacks will continue to kill civilians and further destroy Gaza’s already crippled infrastructure.
“Israeli forces should immediately suspend their attacks and it is very regretful that Israel broke the potential ceasefire arranged today to coincide with the visit of the Egyptian Prime Minister to the Gaza Strip.
“The current situation in Gaza is rooted in the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza, which has caused massive hardship for the citizens of Gaza. According to recent reports 80% of the population of Gaza are dependent on humanitarian aid and more than 40% of the population are unemployed, as the blockade has destroyed the local economy.
“The blockade has ensured that the people of Gaza have been unable to rebuild hospitals, homes and the water treatment plant, which were all destroyed during the Israeli bombardment of the region in the winter of 2008-2009.
“According to a United Nations report, Gaza will be unliveable by 2020 unless the blockade is lifted and the political and social environment is radically transformed
“Israel’s latest attacks are reminiscent of its assaults on the Gaza strip in 2008 and 2009, which saw over 1400 people killed including more than 400 children.
“The international community have been too slow, or non-existent, in applying the pressure that was called for back in 2008 to resolve this situation. The European Union is also clearly not placing any meaningful pressure on Israel to enter serious and meaningful peace negotiations with the Palestinian authorities.
“Israel continues to increase settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories, in violation of international law. It continues to impose its illegal blockade of Gaza and consistently commits human rights abuses right across the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories. Yet the European Union gives Israel preferential treatment to European markets and refuses to ban the importation of products from the illegal Israeli settlements. It preferential treatment rewards Israel for its continued illegal and lethal actions, rather than stopping them.
“In fact we know that between March 2001 and October 2011, Israeli forces have destroyed €50 million worth of Palestinian infrastructure, €30 million of which was funded by the EU, yet no sanctions or condemnation has followed.
“If the EU is really serious about creating a peace deal for the region it has to place significant pressure on Israel to enter into negotiations, with the aim of establishing a two state solution to end the conflict. The current actions of the EU are not only allowing Israel to continue its human rights abuses, but increasingly reducing the prospects that a two-state solution to the conflict will ever be achieved.
"There is currently no incentive and no real pressure being applied to resolve the stalemate that is strangling the hopes and aspirations of Palestinians right across the Middle East. As long as the EU rewards Israel for criminal actions, the longer the Palestinians will suffer under the force of Israeli occupation and colonisation.
"We need to see an immediate end to hostilities between Israel and Palestine, the resumption of peace talks, and a viable deal negotiated and agreed on immediately.”