20 December 2001 Edition

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Israeli 'acts of madness' will not help peace - Ó Caoláin

Speaking in a Dáil debate on the Middle East, on 13 December, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caolain said justice for the Palestinians must be the basis for peaceful negotiations and that "Israeli acts of madness" will only fuel further conflict. He told the Dáil:

"I want to express my own and my party's solidarity with the people of the Middle East at this terrible time in their history. South Africa has seen a successful peace process based on freedom and justice. Here in Ireland we are striving to achieve success for our peace process on the same basis. But in Palestine and Israel the peace process has failed catastrophically and there is one central and indisputable reason - the Palestinian people have been denied freedom and justice by the State of Israel and its international supporters.

"The Palestinian people were promised land for peace, but they have been denied their land and now Israel is waging open warfare upon them. The tragic death toll in the past year tells the story.

"The Palestinian people have suffered a plight akin to that of our own people. Whole communities have been evicted and uprooted. Their country has been occupied and partitioned and over seven million forced into exile throughout the world.

"We see in Palestine today both the hypocrisy and futility of the so-called war on terror. Hypocrisy because the machine-gunning of civilians from Israeli helicopter gunships is not regarded as terrorism, but as combating terror. Futility because it was the violence of the partition of Palestine, the repeated massacres of the Palestinian people and the botched peace process which gave rise to the suicide bombers, just as Israel's renewed war against Palestine will give rise to more of them.

"Today the Israeli Army has bulldozed the Palestinian television and radio station in Ramallah in the West Bank. This follows their decision to break off all contacts with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. These are acts of madness, which must be deplored by the Irish government and the EU. We must demand justice for the Palestinian people as the only real foundation for peace in the Middle East."

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