Statement by Dermot Ahern TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on Gaza Disengagement
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern TD, today welcomed the commencement of Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip and a small number of West Bank settlements, and expressed his hope that the initiative would be completed smoothly and would lead to further progress towards lasting peace in the region. The Minister said
“I welcome the commencement of disengagement from Israel's settlements in Gaza. I am pleased that the process has started, and I hope that it will be completed on schedule and in an orderly and peaceful way. The clear commitment of Prime Minister Sharon and his government to carrying it through, despite the political difficulties they face, is commendable.
“The Palestinian Authority faces equally serious challenges in ensuring that disengagement passes off peacefully, and that they can take full advantage of the opportunity which it presents. I also strongly welcome the determination of President Abbas and his colleagues to make the process work.
“Disengagement will only truly be a success if Gaza can become economically viable. Both sides have a critical role to play in assuring the success of the economic development plans which have been put forward by the Quartet's Special Envoy for Disengagement, Jim Wolfensohn. I call upon them to intensify their cooperation with each other and with the Special Envoy to resolve outstanding issues.
“During my visit to the region last month, I had the opportunity to meet with leaders on both sides. I assured them of Ireland's willingness to play its part in the international efforts to ensure that disengagement succeeds and provides a basis upon which the Palestinian Authority can achieve security, stability, and prosperity in Gaza.
“Drawing on our own experiences, I also emphasised the importance in any peace process of developing dialogue and mutual trust. Disengagement from Gaza is an important advance but it cannot be the end of the road. Ireland, in common with its EU partners, has always been ready to support disengagement as a step toward the full implementation of the Quartet Roadmap. With the support and assistance of the international community, both sides must press forward and renew momentum toward a permanent peace based on a viable two state solution.”
16 August 2005