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Tánaiste Urges Restraint by Israel in relation to forthcoming Gaza Flotilla

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore, T.D., met this afternoon with the Israeli Ambassador, Mr. Boaz Modai, for a routine call during which a number of  issues of bilateral and international importance were discussed, including the current state of the Arab-Israeli peace process and developments in the wider Middle East region.

The Tánaiste also availed of the opportunity to discuss the planned forthcoming flotilla to Gaza, due to sail within the coming week and in which an Irish vessel, the Saoirse, will participate.

The case of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for five years, was also discussed with the Tánaiste reiterating the Government’s long-standing call for Sergeant Shalit’s immediate release. 

Commenting following the meeting, the Tánaiste stated that:

“the Government’s views on the unjust and counter-productive nature of the Gaza blockade are well known. Ireland and the EU have repeatedly urged Israel to open up the border crossings into Gaza to normal human, commercial and humanitarian traffic and to end a policy which ultimately only serves as a recruiting ground for extremism in Gaza. Positive steps in this direction by Israel, building on the announced intention earlier this week to allow UNRWA bring in $100 million of urgently needed reconstruction materials which I welcome and hope is now quickly implemented, would obviate any need for humanitarian-motivated flotillas of this kind to be mounted.”

“I have also made it clear that I cannot advise any Irish national to participate in a venture which potentially brings them into harm’s way through seeking to break a naval blockade. I emphasised, however, to the Ambassador that if the flotilla does sail next week, then Israel must exercise all possible restraint and avoid any use of military force if attempting to uphold their naval blockade. In particular, I would expect that any interception of ships is conducted in a peaceful manner and does not endanger the safety of our citizens or other participants. I urged the Ambassador to ensure that this message was relayed to his authorities.”

“At this time of momentous change and heightened tensions throughout the Middle East region, it is incumbent upon all of us interested in promoting a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbours to avoid any repetition of the completely unacceptable and unjustified violence which marked last year’s flotilla. The Government will continue working with all interested parties in the coming days to ensure this is the case.”