Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen T.D. on Violence in Palestinian Territories
In my statement yesterday deploring the despicable bomb attacks against Israeli civilians, I said that these attacks were clearly intended to wreck progress towards restoring the peace process.
I also pointed out that these attacks were carried out against the express wishes of the Palestinian Authority and despite its efforts to prevent such attacks. The attacks came after a lull of six weeks in which there were no Israeli civilian casualties inside Israel, while some 50 Palestinians, mostly civilians, died in Israeli military operations.
Today Israel has responded by imposing a major curfew in several Palestinian towns and its forces have entered President Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah, destroying buildings and besieging President Arafat. This action plays into the hands of extremists. It does nothing to advance the goal of greater security or the cause of peace.
I call on Israel to withdraw its forces from President Arafat's headquarters and to exercise the greatest restraint.
There can be no justification for terrorist attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. But these attacks must not be allowed to provoke a reaction which in turn causes civilian casualties and is totally counter-productive and damages the prospects for resolving this conflict.