8 January 2009 Edition
Call for Oireachtas Committee to examine EU agreements with Israel
Anger over Gaza slaughter: Protests in Dublin and Belfast
SINN FÉIN International Affairs and Human Rights Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has written to the respective Chairpersons of the Oireachtas Committees on European Affairs and European Scrutiny to ask for meetings to be convened in order to examine whether Israel’s current actions in Gaza are in breach of its agreements with the EU which underpin substantial privileges for Israel including preferential trade.
Ó Snodaigh said, “Israel enjoys many privileges which are underpinned by its agreements with the EU including the Barcelona Declaration which obliges signatories to respect the territorial integrity and unity of each of the other partners, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Agreement which obliges Israel to abide by generally recognised principles of international law and the Association Agreement article 2 of which makes preferential trade conditional on Israel respecting human rights and democratic principles.
“Each of these agreements now needs to be scrutinised by the Oireachtas to examine whether Israel’s current actions in Gaza breach the terms and conditions. I believe any logical examination of the facts will show that Israel is in breach of the terms and conditions of the agreements on a daily basis and their privileges must be suspended as a result.
“With that in mind I have written to the respective Chairpersons of the Oireachtas Committees on European Affairs and European Scrutiny and asked for urgent meetings to be convened to undertake this examination. It is my hope that an Oireachtas committee will provide the government with a clear mandate to pursue the suspension of preferential trade with Israel at an EU level.
“It is clear that tough words from international leaders are having no impact on Israel’s intentions in Gaza. Action needs to be taken in order to force them into a ceasefire and an end to the slaughter of innocent Palestinian people.”
CITY COUNCIL REFLECTS ANGER
Meanwhile the largest local authority in the country, Dublin City Council has demanded that the Israeli Ambassador account for his state’s actions in Gaza.
Sinn Féin Councillor, Daithí Doolan welcomed moves which resulted from an amendment to what was originally an Emergency Sinn Féin motion. He said it was an act of solidarity, which reflected the “genuine concerns and anger that exist deep within the Irish people for what is happening in Palestine. What are needed now are real actions from the Government down.
“For our part Dublin City Council will be demanding that the Israeli Ambassador account for his country’s actions. If he takes up the request Sinn Féin will be making it very clear that we believe his country’s actions are criminal, unacceptable and must be ended immediately.
“Ordinary Irish citizens are not helpless in all of this. They can send a very clear and significant message to the Israeli government by refusing to buy Israeli goods or services. We would urge people to check their weekly shopping – choose not to support Israeli goods while this genocide against the Palestinian people continues.”
Doolan also demanded that the, “Israeli Ambassador accept the Council’s offer to meet to discuss the crisis in Gaza but if he refuses I firmly believe he should be expelled by the Irish Government.”
An original Emergency Motion from Sinn Féin which called on Dublin City Council to “condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent Israeli attacks and invasion of Gaza” and urged “the Lord Mayor to invite the Israeli Ambassador to meet with leaders of all political parties as a matter of urgency to discuss the situation”, was defeated when Labour Group leader Eric Byrne and Fianna Fáil Group leader Julia Carmicael indicated that their respective parties would refuse to support it.
On Tuesday, 6 January Sinn Féin Belfast City Mayor Tom Hartley joined a torchlight procession organised by Tuesday’s Child from Clonard Monastery in West Belfast to the Belfast City Hall to protest at the slaughter in Gaza.
Speaking afterwards the Belfast City Mayor said:
“The human suffering in Gaza must come to an end. The international community can not allow this carnage to continue. Today yet more Palestinian children were killed by Israeli bombs when they sought refuge in a UN School.
“The United Nations has highlighted the growing shortage of basic foodstuffs and fresh water. The blockade of Gaza has been ongoing since June of 2007. This is a humanitarian crisis. The world can not stand idle and let this crisis continue. We need to see an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the free movement of humanitarian aid.
“I would urge all parties and groups in the region to accept inclusive dialogue and political negotiation as the most effective pathway to peace and for all acts of military aggression to end.”
• Sending out messages of protest at the slaughter in Gaza, at the City Hall, Belfast