Statements on the Situation in the Middle East and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
I spoke in the Dáil yesterday on the crisis in Israel and the Middle East.
Everybody in this House should be, and I believe, is appalled and repulsed by the attacks on civilians by Hamas militants earlier this month. We can only try to imagine the horror of those innocents in their final minutes and hours. Indiscriminate murder, torture and violence should play no part in the pursuit of freedom and self-determination. The wrongs, subjugation and brutality do not justify it.
To make an equivocation on this point is to descend to the level of the terrorists. We should have nothing but utter disdain for those who use such tactics but we should spare some of that disdain for those who condone them.
Just as indiscriminate murder, torture and violence should play no part in the pursuit of freedom or self-determination, nor should it play any part in the pursuit of peace or protection. Unfortunately, this is what we are seeing play out in Palestine. A horrific crime is being met with a wholesale indiscriminate and disproportionate retaliation which holds the civilian population to blame for the crimes of Hamas.
This is not to say that those who are oppressed or targeted should stand idly by, turn the other cheek or rise above the wrongs; the vast majority of us, whether in Ireland or in the Middle East, understand this nuance but, unfortunately, many do not. The wrongs must be acknowledged and addressed and justice must be done.
Targeting innocents is never part of the answer, whether that be by Hamas, Israel or any other party. I acknowledge the pain and suffering in this regard of a valued colleague of ours in the Green Party, Lara Alagha. Many of her family were brutally murdered in the Israeli response last week.
As the world watched in horror at the innocent lives being lost in the terrorist attack, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, it is fair to say, did a solo run on her trip to Israel. The Tánaiste, by contrast, in his statements and actions, captured the nuance and sensitivity of the situation in the Middle East in a way which, I am sad to say, the President of the European Commission did not. I regret to say that because the President was a very welcome guest of ours last December when she addressed the joint Houses in this Chamber, marking 50 years of Irish membership of the European Union. In her speech last year, President von der Leyen praised Irish passion for freedom and acknowledged that: "This country knows what it means to struggle for the right to exist". In her own words:
The conflict on the island of Ireland did not end overnight. And yet: Slowly but surely, trust was built both between Dublin and London, and between communities that lived on different sides of a wall. Europe was an incentive to look beyond the barbed wire, to build bridges and reap the economic benefits of cross-Border co-operation.
President von der Leyen demonstrated in that speech that she believed that peacebuilding comes from multilateralism, not unilateralism. The European Union was founded as a peace project. It must remain a strong and unified voice of peace and multilateralism