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McDonald welcomes belated call for Israeli ceasefire from Czech EU presidency

4 January, 2009

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has welcomed the EU Presidency call for a ceasefire and described earlier remarks as counter productive. The Sinn Féin MEP also urged an intensification of diplomatic efforts particularly at EU level secure a ceasefire.

Mary Lou McDonald said:

"The humanitarian cost of an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza will be catastrophic and what is needed now is decisive action by the International Community but in particular by EU leaders to make Israel implement an immediate ceasefire.

"Today's call for a ceasefire by the EU Presidency although belated is to be welcomed, previous remarks describing Israeli action as "defensive" on the cusp of the Israeli ground offensive ran the risk of being counter-productive and if anything could have rather than helped diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire.

"What is required is an end to all hostilities but we have to be clear that it is Israel who is pursing a relentless air onslaught now matched by a ground invasion of Gaza, as we speak the death toll nears 500 with thousands mostly civilians injured in just over a week while Hamas rockets in response to this bombardment have killed six. As the ground offensive rages on hundreds if not thousands of Palestinian lives are at risk.

"The time for tough words from international leaders must how be matched by tough action. It is clear that Israel is not listening as the ground and air offensive continues unabated.

"Once again, Sinn Féin is calling for a suspension of the European-Mediterranean Association Agreement which underpins preferential trade with Israel as a way of forcing Israel's hand and bring about a ceasefire and an end to the killing.

"The Irish Government needs to show leadership and Micheál Martin should immediately propose this approach at EU level. I would urge all international leaders to consider this approach to help secure a ceasefire." ENDS

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