Thursday, 31 July 2014
Seanad Éireann Debate
[Senator Ivana Bacik: ] I believe we need to work more strongly within the EU to achieve this resolution. The Labour Party has long supported the aim of achieving a comprehensive multilateral peace agreement between Israel and Palestine which respects international law, and we support the aim of delivering for the Palestinian people a secure viable state of their own. The priority now is for an immediate ceasefire to prevent any further Palestinian or Israeli civilian death or injury. We believe the international community must then work with Israel and Palestine to deliver a peace agreement which will bring about the lifting of the blockade on Gaza, which is the root cause of this devastating conflict, to end illegal Israeli settlements and to deliver a long-lasting peace to the region based on the two-state principle.
I have not spoken of Ukraine, although the Minister and Senator Cummins have very eloquently done so. There is a message here given that, on Ukraine, we see the EU taking strong action in terms of sanctions on Russia which, again, is backing the separatists in Ukraine just as the US backs Israel. We need to see similar strong action being taken by the EU in order to end the appalling conflict in Gaza.
To end on a hopeful note, at such a bleak time for the Middle East I believe the Irish peace process can serve as some sort of useful indicator that even the most intractable conflicts can be resolved peacefully in the end and that there is never a military solution to this sort of conflict.
Senator David Norris: I would like to express my gratitude to the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, to the Minister who, as a Laois man, I congratulate on his appointment, and to Senator Averil Power for marshalling the forces on this side to respond to my request for a recall of Seanad Éireann.
People ask, "What for? What can Seanad Éireann do?" The answer in the international context is "Nothing", because nobody will pay that much attention to what Ireland does. I remember being in Palestine some years ago in an area that was heavily controlled by the Israelis, and I said to my Palestinian hosts, "You know there is nothing I can do, I will have no effect", and they said, "But at least you will be a witness, you will be a record to our suffering, and we will not go unnoticed". It is for that reason I called for the recall of the Seanad.
I am very sad. I am not anti-Israeli; I am not anti-Semitic. I supported the State of Israel. However, in the 40 years that I have known the State of Israel and sometimes had a home there, I have seen it completely change. It changed from a left wing, socially directed country to an extreme right-wing regime that is behaving in the most criminal fashion, defying the world and unscrupulously using the Holocaust to justify what they are doing. It is time that rag was torn away from them.
Israel is afraid of Palestinian unity. That is what all of this is about. It has nothing to do with the appalling murder of those three Israeli kids. The Israeli police knew that Hamas had nothing to do with it before this war started. Israel created Hamas in order to split Fatah, so it is responsible for Hamas. I had this confirmed at the highest level in the foreign ministry in Jerusalem some years ago. It is astonishing to me that those in the West prate about democracy, yet every time an Islamic government crops up around the Mediterranean, they refuse to deal with it, they subvert it and they destroy it. Where is the democracy in that? We may not like it. They may be antagonistic. My Jewish friends and Israeli friends sometimes say to me, "How would you fare, as a gay man, in any of these?" I know exactly how I would fare, but it does not mean it is correct to deny people the right to choose their own government. What self-respecting or sane people would allow their enemies to choose their government for them? Can anyone imagine it happening in this country? I certainly cannot.
America has played a shameful role in this. Israel could not get away with these disgraceful acts of international piracy and brigandage if it was not for the protecting shadow of the United States of America. I condemn President Obama for his utter inaction. I have to say I was a bit taken aback when I saw Ukraine had been added to the statements as it is irrelevant. It is a bit of "whataboutery". What about Syria? What about the Congo? What about Iraq? What about everything? However, the one thing it does is to show the extraordinary discrepancy here. On the instructions of the Americans we are prepared to boycott, go after the Russian banks and do this, that and the other. What do we do about Israel? We do not even mark a protest note with our vote at the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
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