Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., on the Situation in the Middle East
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., expresses his deep concern at the latest developments in the Middle East and the increasing dangers which they represent.
Earlier today the Minister sent a letter to Mr. Shimon Peres, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel, expressing the Government's horror at the appalling attacks over the weekend which killed at least 25 Israeli civilians.
The Minister condemned the attacks utterly and said that no cause justifies the deliberate taking of innocent lives.
He extended sympathy to the injured and the bereaved, to the Government of Israel, and to all who suffered in these atrocities.
In his letter the Minister urged the Israeli Government to persist in the path of peace. He said that, while it was essential that those directly responsible should be brought to justice, it would serve only the cause of those who are opposed to peace to go beyond this legitimate requirement.
The Minister voiced the hope that, even in this hour of great tragedy, the Israeli Government would continue working to find a way to move forward and to bring an end to this conflict which had taken such a toll of human life. He assured Minister Peres of Ireland's strongest support in this endeavour.
The Minister stresses the urgent need for the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to move quickly to renew security cooperation with the aim of ending the cycle of violence and to take all necessary steps to resume negotiations leading to a just, comprehensive and lasting solution. The Government have repeatedly emphasised their abhorrence at the killing and wounding of innocent civilians, Palestinians and Israelis.
The Minister also associates the Government fully with the statement issued yesterday by the Presidency of the European Union which condemned these terrorist attacks and called upon the Palestinian Authority to do everything in its power to arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators of these awful acts and to prevent the repetition of such acts.
The Minister has learned with grave concern of Israeli helicopter attacks this afternoon in the vicinity of President Arafat's headquarters. The Government calls on Israel to desist from such attacks and to exercise the greatest restraint and prudence so as not to risk a further escalation of the conflict with unpredictable consequences.