Minister Cowen condemns further escalation in violence in the Middle East
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, T.D., has expressed his dismay at the alarming escalation in violence in Israel and Palestine this week. He has expressed his condolences to the families of those killed and his hope for a speedy recovery to the injured.
The Minister called for an immediate end to the violence and a return to the path of peace represented by the Roadmap. He said that the latest wave of tit-for-tat violence will only lead to further bloodshed and continuing misery for the population of Israel and the Occupied Territories. The only way forward for those truly committed to peace is through the Roadmap. He reiterated his appreciation for the recent courageous decisions of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders which brought hope at Aqaba. But, he said, that hope is now fading once more in the light of this weeks events.
He called on the parties to the current peace initiative not to act in any way which will place further obstacles in the way of progress. In particular, he urged the Israeli authorities to exercise restraint in their response to terrorism. Any other approach serves only to fuel the work of the agents of terror by rallying disaffected Palestinians to their cause. He called on the Palestinian Authority to continue to do all in its power to bring an end to terror. He welcomed President Arafat's forthright condemnation of Wednesday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The Minister condemned unequivocally the recent terrorist actions for which Hamas has now claimed responsibility. He was also strongly critical of their decision to withdraw from ceasefire talks. This is a negative decision further exacerbated by their recent inflammatory and provocative rhetoric against Israel. He reiterated his support for the efforts of the Egyptian Government and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas.
The Minister said “there is no choice other than the immediate implementation of the Roadmap if the parties are truly committed to peace. The very welcome involvement of the US Administration in the peace process was crucial in bringing about the positive steps that were taken before the recent violence, including the Aqaba summit, and continued US involvement is an essential element in implementing the Roadmap.
It is time to show the men of violence that they cannot win and that their activities cannot dictate the direction of negotiations. It is time to put the well-being of the people of Israel and Palestine first. The Roadmap is the only way forward if we are to achieve a peaceful solution to the problem and bring about the goal that all those truly committed to peace have agreed on: an Israel, recognised within its borders and secure in its Jewish identity having arrived at a just settlement of the refugee problem, living alongside a sovereign, independent, and viable Palestinian State and its other neighbours in peace and shared prosperity.”