Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Dáil Éireann Debate
Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)
1. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his attendance at the protest in Paris following the killings at the Charlie Hebdo offices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2169/15]
3. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the position regarding his meeting with the President of France, Mr. François Hollande, on 11 January 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2174/15]
9. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with the President of France, Mr. François Hollande, in Paris in France in January 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4312/15]
10. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to the Prime Minister of Denmark, Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt, since the two fatal shootings in Copenhagen in Denmark on 15 February 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7710/15]
11. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his attendance in Paris at the protest following the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12799/15]
12. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he spoke to the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, during his visit to Paris, France in January 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12800/15]
On 11 January last, I travelled to Paris following the horrific attacks there to join over 40 other Heads of State and Government in leading a march of silent solidarity together with President François Hollande and the families and colleagues of the victims. As I said at the time, the killings were an assault on the fundamental right to free speech, which is a cornerstone of our democratic societies. They also were a brutal attack on the Parisian Jewish community. Leaders marched together that day to defend tolerance and humanity against the hatred and extremism that seek to dismantle and destroy them. Members of all the main religions and many strands of French society participated in an enormous march which continued late into the evening. The French authorities estimated that some 3.7 million people participated in events across France. There was also a global outpouring of support for the French people, including vigils across Ireland. The determination of the French people to stand firm against hate and terror was moving and inspiring.
While I did not have any formal bilateral meetings when I was in Paris, I engaged informally with many other Heads of State and Government from across Europe and beyond. Prime Minister Netanyahu was among the leaders I spoke with. I also spoke with and expressed my sympathies to several French politicians, including Prime Minister Valls, Secretary of State Matthias Fekl, former President Sarkozy and former Prime Ministers Fillon and Rocard. President Hollande greeted me on arrival at the Élysée Palace and I conveyed to him my personal condolences and the sympathies and deepest condolences of the Irish people to the families and friends of the victims of the attacks and to the French nation at a time of great loss and mourning. I had already written to President Hollande to express my condolences and to assure him of Ireland's full support and solidarity in fighting together against terrorism and extremism while preserving tolerance and inclusivity. Deputies will recall that the terrorist attack in Paris was condemned in the strongest terms during statements in this House on 14 January.
Following the further tragic shootings in Copenhagen in the middle of February, I was deeply saddened to send a similar letter of condolence and support to the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. When I met Prime Minister Valls during his visit to Dublin in April, I again expressed Ireland's deep solidarity with the French people and the need to defend our values. We spoke about France's deep appreciation for the support demonstrated throughout Ireland and the world in January. We also reflected that dealing with the threat of terrorism will continue to be a global challenge in the coming years. Together with all our EU partners, we continue to work towards preventing radicalisation and promoting counter-terrorism. Progress since the special European Council meeting on 12 February last will be reviewed at the forthcoming European Council meeting on 25 and 26 June.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: The world was of course utterly appalled by the killing of 12 innocent people, ten of whom were journalists, at Charlie Hebdo earlier this year. I have to ask the Taoiseach about the attendance of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the demonstration he joined in the aftermath of those killings. Before I ask the Taoiseach about two aspects of this matter, I would like to mention something that might come as news to him. My main question is about Benjamin Netanyahu. The co-president of the French-Jewish Union for Peace, Pierre Stambul, was arrested at 1 a.m. last night in France. He was dragged out of his home, handcuffed and taken into police custody. I believe there is a connection between the arrest under France's anti-terror laws of a man who is part of a French-Jewish peace organisation and the fact that he was due to speak in Toulouse later today at a meeting promoting boycott, sanctions and divestment against Israel. I suggest that this man of Jewish origin was arrested under France's anti-terror laws because he was supporting the boycott of Israel in support of the Palestinian people. That follows a consistent pattern in France that pre-dates the Charlie Hebdo killings. For example, the French Government banned a number of pro-Palestinian or Palestinian solidarity demonstrations in France in July of last year, at a time when 2,300 Palestinians were being killed by Israel. Will the Taoiseach condemn such actions by the French Government against people who are legitimately expressing their opposition and outrage regarding the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians and calling for solidarity with the Palestinian people?
[Palestinians] are all enemy combatants... this also includes the mothers of the martyrs... they should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.
That was the Israeli Minister of Justice in the last few months. The Israeli deputy Minister of Defence has said that Palestinians "are beasts, they are not human".
My position is that between the sea and the Jordan River, there needs to be one state only – the state of Israel... There is no place for an agreement of any kind that discusses the concession of Israeli sovereignty over lands conquered [in 1967].
These are the official statements of several Ministers of the current Government of Israel. In one case, the genocide of all Palestinians, including children, has actually been advocated and they have been referred to as "snakes". Does the Taoiseach agree that if we are defining terrorism, that is the language and thinking of terrorists? It is absolutely unacceptable in civilised politics and international relations for the Head of Government of a state with which we carry on normal relations to advocate those sorts of views, which we know have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women and children. Given that the Taoiseach met Mr. Netanyahu in Paris earlier this year, what does he have to say about the expression of such views by the Israeli Government?
The Taoiseach: The Deputy has read comments made by a number of Ministers in the Israeli Government. On the one hand, I suppose one might say they are all on-message. I find that message regrettable and most unhelpful. I do not agree with those statements. When I met Prime Minister Netanyahu briefly in Paris, I said to him that when I had an opportunity to go to Gaza a number of years ago with a delegation from here, I found the situation completely intolerable. I told him that I am a strong supporter of the two-state solution and that peace is always possible. I reminded him of the example offered by a small country like Ireland, where people were able to sit down and work out their differences after 30 years of violence, with the result that lives have been saved and a fragile but stable peace situation, which has to be worked on constantly, has been put in place.
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