Dáil Éireann - Volume 567 - 29 May, 2003

Written Answers. - Middle East Issues.

  23. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the recently published report, Losing Ground: Israel, Poverty and the Palestinians; his further views on the report's findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14876/03]

  Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I am aware of the depressing conclusions drawn by the report to which the Deputy refers. The Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, launched this report at the invitation of Christian Aid. My Department has been carefully considering its findings and possible ways in which we can assist further. This report paints a compelling picture of the con[1670]sequences for the Palestinian people of the occupied territories of the current Israeli practices. The authors are to be commended for reminding us of the human consequences of the conflict, which can often be overlooked in discussion of political issues. It has long been the view of the Government that for the peace process to work there must be parallel progress on the political, economic and security tracks. This view is shared by our European Union partners and was most recently reaffirmed in the conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 19 May.

  24. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised the issue of the possible suspension of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Israel until such activities as the confiscation of Palestinian land and the destruction of Palestinian buildings for the construction of the separation wall cease; his views on whether the human rights aspects enshrined in Article 2 of the agreement are being upheld by Israel; if his attention has been drawn to the calls from human rights organisations for the Agreement to be suspended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14940/03]

  61. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised the issue of possible suspension of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Israel until it ceases such activities as the confiscation of Palestinian land and destruction of Palestinian buildings for the construction of the separation wall; his views on whether the human rights aspects enshrined in Article 2 of the agreement are being upheld by Israel; if his attention has been drawn to calls from human rights organisations for the agreement with Israel to be suspended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14823/03]

  Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I propose to take Questions Nos. 24 and 61 together.

  The Government does not consider that suspension of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Israel would serve any useful purpose. Any such action, as a practical matter, would have undesirable consequences, such as undercutting, as far as Israel is concerned, the role which the European Union has in the peace process, blocking Palestinian trade with the EU and rendering the continuation of our programmes of assistance to the Palestinian Authority and people more difficult to implement.

  Article 2 of the association agreement reinforces obligations which already fall to the signatories with respect to human rights. The European Union, especially at the meetings of the association councils with Israel, has conveyed its concerns to the Israeli authorities at the human rights implications of its security policies. Together with our partners in the Union, we will continue to take these opportunities to press the [1671]Israeli government to respect fully its obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the fourth Geneva Convention, and under Article 2 of the association agreement.