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17 August 2006 Edition

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Ó Snodaigh challenges Ahern on Lebanon

Sinn Féin International Affairs and Human Rights spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern to publicly reject US President George Bush's analysis of the conflict in the Middle East. Speaking on Tuesday, Ó Snodaigh went on to say that 26 County Defence Forces have a positive role to play in the peace keeping mission in Lebanon.

He said, "George Bush's analysis of the conflict in the Middle East perpetuates a myth that Israel is blameless in the current crisis. A myth that Israel's actions against Lebanon and Gaza are the simply the result of provocation from the Palestinians and the Hezbollah. This myth must be challenged and I would call on Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern to publicly reject this analysis. The reality is that the capture of Israeli soldiers was the result of continued Israeli aggression, expansion and occupation in the region, and the continued detention of Lebanese prisoners by the Israelis six years after the end of the war.

"I welcome the UN's invitation to Ireland to participate in the peacekeeping mission to Lebanon. Our Defence Forces have a positive role to play in the peacekeeping efforts in that region. However, UN troops should not only be sent into Southern Lebanon but also to Northern Israel, as it is the Israelis who pose the most potent threat to the current ceasefire and potentially also to Irish soldiers in the region. In the event of a resurrection of hostilities, it is the Israelis who pose the biggest threat to UN troops - as evidenced by the killing of four UN observers in an Israeli air strike at the start of the current crisis. Lebanese civilians would also be better protected from indiscriminate Israeli attacks if the UN demilitarised the Israeli side of the border."

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