Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen T.D. on the situation in the Middle East
On 24 September, Ireland and the other European members of the Security Council co-sponsored Resolution 1435 in response to the escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This Resolution demanded an immediate end to the reoccupation of President Arafat's headquarters and complete cessation of all acts of violence and terror. It further demanded that Israel immediately cease measures in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and security infrastructure. It also demanded the expeditious withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian cities towards the positions held prior to September 2000 and called on the Palestinian Authority to deal with terrorists.
In spite of the Resolution, Israeli forces are still besieging the Presidential compound in Ramallah and maintaining their oppressive occupation of the Palestinian cities in the West Bank .
Yesterday, Israeli forces launched a further attack in Gaza city, resulting in the deaths of two civilians and injuries to at least twenty- five others, including twelve children. This attack shows disregard for the opinion of the international community and an unwillingness to respect international law. As the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, pointed out in a statement yesterday deploring this attack, Security Council Resolution 1435 reiterated the need for respect in all circumstances of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention which imposes an obligation to protect civilians.
Resolutions of the Security Council are binding on all the parties concerned. I call on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its obligations, as well as on the Government of Israel to immediately comply in full with the requirements of Resolution 1435 and to conduct itself in a manner which is fully consistent with international humanitarian law. In particular and as a matter of priority, there should be an immediate end to the siege of President Arafat's headquarters and an end to attacks on heavily populated civilian areas.