Middle East : Minister Cowen welcomes truce announcement
Speaking from Beirut on the final leg of his visit to the Middle East, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., welcomed the announcement of a truce by a number of Palestinian militant groups. He described it as a major step forward which will help to create the political space necessary to make real and substantial progress in implementing the Roadmap and reviving the peace process.
He also welcomed the partial Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and looked forward to further withdrawals from Palestinian territories reoccupied since the outbreak of the intifada. He acknowledged this as another essential step in creating the necessary political space. He said that, whatever the reservations on both sides, they are now presented with an opportunity to engage in a positive dynamic which will lead to a comprehensive peaceful solution.
“It is of vital importance that they build on these positive beginnings and maintain the momentum.
“Formal declarations are one thing. What is really important now is to do everything possible to reinforce the movement towards peace. Concrete steps must be taken on both sides. Those who seek to destroy the initiative through violence must be faced down and provocations must not be allowed to derail this new and positive impetus towards a peaceful settlement. The Palestinians should act purposefully to stop acts of violence and the Israelis should halt their military operations against Palestinians. Neither side can hope to attain its goals through the use of force”.
The Minister said “throughout my current visit to the Middle East I have found overwhelming support for a cease-fire leading to a permanent cessation of violence and a comprehensive peace settlement. I have stressed the need for a step-by-step approach and sustained political leadership to achieve that end. Ireland will continue to play an active and visible role over the coming months to assist in sustaining progress on the Quartet Road Map and helping the people of the Middle East to realise the peace and prosperity which they deserve”.