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Ó Snodaigh calls for end of preferential trade with Isreal

21 June, 2006


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Human Rights and International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Government to end its policy of preferential trade with Israel. Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, the Irish people are behind the Palestinians and it is incumbent upon the Minister to represent the voice of the Irish people at the European foreign policy-making table and he should vote accordingly.

He said, "The European Council Presidency Conclusions on Isreal state that "the European Union remains committed to working with the Quartet towards the goal of a just, viable and lasting solution" but it has yet to demonstrate that commitment with action. Thus far, all the EU has demonstrated is a commitment to the continuation of Israeli policies of occupation, extra-judicial killings and collective punishment. It walks this walk while paying lip-service to the just demands of the Palestinian people for their right to be free from illegal occupation and the endemic human rights abuse involved. Actions speak louder than words and the Council's condemnation of Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians is not accompanied by the suspension of preferential trade with Israel on human rights grounds. There are no teeth to the Conclusion.

"More often than not, when I put important questions to the Minister in relation to this government's foreign policy he abdicates his responsibility for this state's international relations to Brussels. The Minister argues that he would support the Palestinians but these decisions are made by the whole Council and therefore his hands are tied. This is not good enough. When the government have been given the opportunity to demonstrate their support for the realisation of a Palestinian state in the Council e.g. during the decision to withdraw aid to the Palestinian Authority at a previous Council meeting, this government's cowardice on the issue was clear for all to see. The Irish people are behind the Palestinians. It is incumbent upon the Minister to represent the voice of the Irish people at the European foreign policy-making table and he should vote accordingly.

"On the 9th of June Israeli forces launched an attack on a beach killing 7 Palestinians including 3 children. On the 13th of June an Israeli missile strike on Gaza city killed 9 Palestinians including 2 children. And yesterday an Israeli air strike killed a further 3 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip -- a 16 year old, a 7 year old and a 5 year old. These attacks are unjustifiable and amount to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. That is a war crime.

"There is an urgent need for this government to break with the prevailing positions in the European Union, to revise its policy of relations with Israel, to end its policy of preferential trade with Israel in particular, and to begin persuading its European counter-parts to do likewise." ENDS

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