22 March 2007 Edition

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Palestinian Ministers appointed

Palestinian ministers were appointed last Thursday following an agreement reached in Mecca between Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, of Hamas, and President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
Bairbre de Brún MEP called on the EU to lift its embargo on Palestine and work closely with the new power-sharing government in Palestine.
Speaking after a hearing in the EU Parliament entitled ‘The Middle East, What is Europe waiting for?”, de Brún said:
“A solution to the conflict in Palestine can only be found through dialogue, and based on the recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people to statehood, on a full and equal basis with all its neighbours including Israel.
“There is an urgent need for the international community to refocus its attention on these rights and work towards a just and lasting resolution to the conflict. To this end the EU should lift its embargo on Palestine and work closely with the new power-sharing government.
“It is essential that the EU and EU member states provide practical and vocal support for conflict resolution in Palestine.  I would call on the Irish government in particular to become an advocate for peace, for an end to repressive measures and for the Israeli government to move away from the failed strategies of repression and conflict and fully embrace the opportunities that now present themselves.”
As the new Palestinian unity government met last weekend to discuss ways to lift the financial embargo, international will to maintain the boycott dissipated.
Members of the Quartet comprising the US, UN, EU and Russia broke ranks with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, who rejected the unity government and called for the maintenance of the boycott.
But the US announced it would deal with Fatah ministers, a stance also adopted by Britain. Washington said, however, it would not resume financial aid.
Ireland and Spain called for unconditional restoration of relations and Russia took a similar line. Syria and Egypt welcomed the new government and demanded an end to the boycott. The Norwegian Government lifted its sanctions.
Welcoming the formation of the new government, 26 County Minister Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said: “In the coming days and weeks, the Government will work for a positive and creative response by the EU. We must be ready to work with President Abbas and with the new government, on the basis of an active commitment to a two-state solution.”

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