Fianna Fáil calls for Government to demand urgent EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting to discuss Gaza-Israel crisis
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD is calling on the Government to seek a special meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. The EU’s lack of intervention, as well as its abstention from a UN resolution to establish a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and condemning Israel for potential violations of international law, has angered many people in Ireland.
Deputy Smith commented, “I am calling on Minister Charlie Flanagan to seek an urgent meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to address the escalating humanitarian disaster in Gaza. The Israeli ground invasion has entered its fourth week. More than 1,800 Palestinians and over 60 Israelis have been killed in the violence. Images of badly injured women and children have dominated our TV screens for the past month demonstrating so clearly the scale of the situation.
“All loss of life must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, but the bombing of UN schools and designated shelters by the Israeli military is intolerable. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the latest attack on a school in Rafah as a “moral outrage and a criminal act”.
“The EU cannot be allowed to continue with its hands-off approach and must be spurred into action. How many more lives will have been lost before the Foreign Affairs Council meets again? How many more innocent civilians must suffer before the EU and the international community can be forced into action? Measures must be taken to stop the bloodshed.
“EU Ministers must change their approach and demand a ceasefire in the region to allow for meaningful talks to take place. Violence solves nothing, discussions and mediated negotiations are our only hope of a resolution to this decades old conflict. The current wave of aggression must be stopped and the EU, led by Ireland if necessary, should impose sanctions on goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements. The EU needs to take a tougher, but united stance and prove that indiscriminate killings and maimings are not acceptable. It needs to go further than it has to date, and I am urging the Government here to play its part and seek a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council at the earliest possible date”.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD has condemned yesterday’s attack in Gaza which resulted in the loss of the lives of eight children and two adults in a playground. The UN’s children’s fund says there is no safe place in Gaza for children, as the death toll from the conflict continues to rise daily.
Deputy Smith commented, “The continued slaughter of children in Gaza is completely unacceptable and inhumane. Any loss of life is deplorable, but the killing of a child is particularly appalling. As the conflict between Gaza and Israel escalates, it is becoming more apparent that innocent civilians and children are accounting for a disproportionate number of the casualties and fatalities.
“The sustained rocket attacks on both sides of the border should be condemned at the highest level, however, the Government here has shown little leadership in this matter, choosing to abstain from a UN Human Rights Council resolution to set up a commission of inquiry into atrocities in Gaza as well as refusing a Dáil debate on the issue.
“There needs to be clear message from the international community that the level of violence being used by Israel against Gaza is disproportionate and should not be tolerated. We have always acknowledged Israel’s right to defend and protect itself, but the level of violence demonstrated in recent weeks, and particularly over the last few days has been excessive.
“I am backing calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, to limit the number of civilian deaths. It is imperative that the situation is not allowed to intensify. Too many innocent lives have already been destroyed in this conflict, and the increasing death toll is unacceptable. Concerted diplomatic efforts must be made to find a resolution to the current situation, and all available mediation and conciliation agencies should be used to bring about a peaceful end to the ongoing atrocities”.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD is calling on Minister Charlie Flanagan to prioritise the escalating displacement crisis in Iraq and to move this situation up the European agenda at the next meeting of EU Foreign Ministers. France has now offered asylum to the thousands of Christians, who have been forced to flee their homes because of the threat from the Islamist jihadists group ISIS.
Deputy Smith commented:
“What is happening in Northern Iraq is appalling. ISIS is engaged in very straightforward, brutal, but largely unreported ethnic cleansing. Northern Iraq was home to one of the oldest Christian communities on earth, with Mosul having been a centre of Christianity for almost 2,000 years. Today, under death threats, the Christian community has fled in what has been described as the largest mass flight of Christians in the Middle East since the Armenian massacres and the expulsions of Christians from Turkey after the First World War.
Before the allied invasion in 2003 there were around 1 million Christians living in Iraq. Almost three quarters have left following the onset of the civil war and targeted attacks by jihadist terrorists.
Deputy Smith continued:
“Fianna Fáil has raised this issue in the Dáil with the former Tánaiste, but we have been deeply disappointed by the Government’s apparent disinterest in what is happening. Sectarian displacement on this scale should be a cause for much greater concern for policy makers across Europe than it has been to date – I would like to see Ireland taking a lead role in moving this situation further up the agenda at a European level.
“There are many very difficult conflicts and legitimate demands on international attention at the moment; however we need to be careful that this massacre, which is truly historic in scale, does not simply pass unnoticed and unchallenged. Minister Flanagan has an opportunity in his new role to shine a light on the situation in Iraq, and I would urge him to raise the issue with his European counterparts at their next meeting”.