The deteriorating situation for Palestinians has to be a source of concern for all decent-minded people. The massing of troops and tanks by Israel as a prelude to an assault on a downtrodden, deprived and defenceless people is reprehensible. The only thing that can come from such an assault, as we have seen in the past, is the slaughter of the innocents.
Surely we must have learned something from the other trouble spots in the world – Iraq being an example – which is that force is no substitute whatsoever for dialogue. There should be dialogue to solve the Palestinian tragedy. When a government of unity was established by the Palestinians, I thought that all of us, including Israel, would welcome that. Instead, however, Israel went on a diplomatic offensive to undermine it.
We saw exactly what happened in the North of Ireland when we took the power-sharing approach and dialogue began to move forward. That is precisely what is required in Palestine.
I appeal to Israel in this case. I know they monitor what we say because of the missives I have received from them in the past any time I have spoken on this issue in the Seanad. I spoke on the invasion of Iraq along exactly the same lines. I do not want to say “Weren’t we correct at that time?”, but I ask Israel, for once, to let decency prevail in this particular case. As we sit here, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike. A large number of them have already been hospitalised. Do we need to look at Northern Ireland to realise what that means, and the potential it has for further conflict and further loss of life?
I believe that Israel is not engaging towards a solution. I am hearing this from among the Irish people and I can see it in the media. The Israeli Ambassador would be doing good not just for his own country or for a Palestinian state, but also for humanity, by relaying what he is hearing on the ground in Ireland back to his own masters in Israel.