Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin calls for a new, collective international initiative to end the war against the Palestinian people

1 May, 2018 - by Declan Kearney


Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney MLA has called for the international community to develop a new, collective initiative to bring an end to the war against the Palestinian people.

Speaking during an address to the 23rd session of the Palestine National Council of the PLO, Mr Kearney said:

"The failure of the international community to take a stand against the multiple injustices being inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israel is shameful and outrageous.

"The international community must unite in holding Israel accountable for its actions."The authority of United Nations resolutions must be upheld.

"The Israeli state cannot have it both ways.

"If it wants to be treated as a member of the international community then it must comply with the standards of behaviour which the rest of the world demands.

"Ultimately that must mean an end to its denial of a homeland for the Palestinian people.

"For our part, Sinn Féin has called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ireland in response to the most recent Israeli aggression at the Gaza border.

"Sinn Féin has repeatedly called on the international community to stand in defence of the Palestine people."We have succeeded in having a motion passed through the Irish Parliament calling on the Irish government to officially recognise the Palestinian state.

Addressing the issue of negotiations and need for a durable peace process, Mr Kearney said: "Properly constituted, inclusive negotiations, good faith, and confidence building measures are the foundations of the road map to deliver peace and democracy in Palestine.

"At this time the Israeli government has no interest in negotiating a just and democratic settlement.

"It will not be committed to that objective until sufficient political and diplomatic pressure changes the balance of forces and brings it into proper negotiations.

"But Israeli society is not a monolith. 

"Those of us who believe in freedom and justice have a responsibility to help build political momentum and alliances, and to apply the required pressure upon the Israeli government and those who have influence with the Israelis."

 ENDS

FULL TEXT OF DECLAN KEARNEYS SPEECH BELOW

As-salaam alaykum

Thank you for the invitation to address this Palestinian National Council; it is a great honour.

Thank you for the warm welcome I have received. As a representative of the Sinn Féin leadership I bring fraternal greetings on behalf of our Party to the PLO.

Sinn Féin restates our Party's enduring solidarity with the leadership and the people of Palestine, here in the occupied territories, in Gaza and across your international diaspora. 

Sinn Féin, and the people of Ireland, have a longstanding affinity with the people of Palestine and your ongoing struggle for national liberation and democracy.

I find it especially poignant to be here in Palestine on the 70th anniversary of 'The Nakba', when your people were driven from their land.

There are many similarities between the Irish and Palestinian freedom struggles.

The Irish national liberation struggle also remains unfinished.

We have drawn inspiration from Palestinian solidarity and comradeship during times of great challenge and are indebted to you all for that.

We hope Irish solidarity efforts have been of similar inspiration and support to your struggle for justice and democracy.

Whilst the Irish national liberation struggle is incomplete, we have succeeded in building a durable peace process built upon the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago. 

The Good Friday Agreement brought armed conflict to an end in Ireland and consigned to history the worst excesses of British oppression.It commenced a process of democratic transformation in Irish society.

It has created a new political context which allows those who support Irish freedom to advance towards an Irish national democracy through the primacy of politics and democratic and peaceful methods.

Nevertheless, powerful forces continue to block democratic change and progress.

Many difficult challenges continue to confront the Irish peace process. 

Today the Good Friday Agreement faces its greatest threat since it was signed.

Here in Palestine your people continue to suffer grievously under a vicious and relentless Israeli occupation which murders and imprisons children, colonises your land and terrorises and brutalises the Palestinian population.

The recent mass killings of unarmed Palestinian protestors taking part in 'The Great March of Return' has again focused the attention of the international opinion on the criminal actions of Israel.

The brutal strategy and violent tactics employed by the Israeli state and its armed forces against the current Palestinian protests are not new for your people.

These actions have been integral to the politico-military strategy of the Israeli state for decades.At its core Israeli policy is about colonisation, occupation, repression and control.

It is the antithesis of all universal democratic norms.And the failure of the international community to take a stand against the multiple injustices being inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israel is shameful and outrageous.

The international community must unite in holding Israel accountable for its actions.The authority of United Nations resolutions must be upheld.The Israeli state cannot have it both ways.

If it wants to be treated as a member of the international community, then it must comply with the standards of behaviour which the rest of the world demands.

Ultimately that must mean an end to its denial of a homeland for the Palestinian people.

For our part, Sinn Féin has called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ireland in response to the most recent Israeli aggression at the Gaza border.Sinn Féin has repeatedly called on the international community to stand in defence of the Palestine people.

We have succeeded in having a motion passed through the Irish Parliament calling on the Irish government to officially recognise the Palestinian state.

Moreover, Sinn Féin fully supports the 'Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions' campaign against Israel.As an extension of our fraternal solidarity we are committed to sharing our experiences of how the Irish Peace Process has been built and progressed.

Of course, no two liberation struggles are ever exactly the same.But just as our South African comrades in the ANC shared with us their experiences of building peace in South Africa during the 1990's, Sinn Féin is willing to share its experience of conflict resolution in Ireland with all political factions and protagonists to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. 

As in Ireland the conflict here is political in nature and there can be no military solution. 

International history demonstrates that few national liberation struggles result in an outright military victory for the liberation forces. 

More often the outcome emerges from a negotiated process. Inclusive political negotiations and constructive engagement to help end all armed actions is an absolute imperative to developing the circumstances for a durable political agreement.

Properly constituted, inclusive negotiations, good faith, and confidence building measures are the foundations of the road map to deliver peace and democracy in Palestine.

At this time the Israeli government has no interest in a negotiating a just and democratic settlement.

It will not be committed to that objective until sufficient political and diplomatic pressure changes the balance of forces and brings it into proper negotiations.But Israeli society is not a monolith.

Those of us who believe in freedom and justice have a responsibility to help build political momentum and alliances, and to apply the required pressure upon the Israeli government, and with those who have influence with the Israelis.

A new collective, international initiative is needed to bring an end to the war against the Palestinian people.It is not difficult to start a war; one spark can cause a conflagration.Ending war is a much more difficult task.

In Ireland we understood that we could not bring an end to the armed conflict and injustice which caused it, without a coherent political strategy and objectives.

We could not, and cannot, wish away the forces opposed to democratic change and Irish unity.Political strategy, leadership, internal unity and cohesion have been essential to our progress.

Similarly, Palestinians cannot, and will not, wish away the Israeli occupation.The PLO as the leadership of the Palestinian people carries an onerous responsibility to provide the leadership, strategy and political direction that will lead to the ending of the occupation.

You can be assured of Sinn Féin's continuous fraternal support as you engage with that historic responsibility

 Irish Republicanism has a history of splits and divisions, of old comrades falling out with one another and sometimes even killing each other. 

When that was happening our opponents were always winning.Divide and conquer is a well-worn cliché, but it is true nonetheless.

It is as true in Palestine as it was in Ireland.For that reason, when developing our strategy to end the war in our own country it was imperative that unity and internal cohesion were made central to that strategy.

Nelson Mandela told Sinn Féin many years ago that the most important negotiation is always with your own constituency.

We have invested heavily in the process of internal negotiation to maximise common ground and agreement on shared national objectives.

This has not always been easy. It means difficult and sometimes uncomfortable debate, and at times it has not always been possible to achieve unanimous agreement within our political base of support. But the reward in maximising internal unity for national objectives has always justified the effort. 

Even while others still oppose the governing strategy we continue to seek engagement with them because dialogue on expanding the base of support for national democratic objectives is essential. 

The struggle is always bigger than individual personalities or groups. 

In the Irish language we say 'Ní neart go cur le chéile' - that is, in unity there is strength. 

It seems so self-evident, but we must always remind ourselves of that fundamental strategic objective and principle.

The unity of the Palestinian leadership and its people, allied to freedom loving people from every corner of this globe, can become such a powerful force that it will shake the occupation to its very foundations.

Sinn Féin pledges that we will take every opportunity to oppose the injustices being perpetrated by the Israeli state and to assist in influencing a change in its policies towards Palestine.

Our Party will continue to build solidarity for your struggle throughout Ireland.

We will remain resolute in our solidarity with Palestine. 

The equal rights and dignity of your people demand nothing less.

We share mutual objectives of building a future which guarantees freedom, equality and social justice for all our peoples. 

The PLO and Sinn Féin are in the vanguard of political transformation. 

 are agents of change. 

In this, the 70th year of 'the Nakba' let us look forward with confidence and unity, and towards the achievement of an Ireland and Palestine of equals.

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