President Higgins, pictured here at an event last month, has expressed his “deep concern.” RollingNews.ie photo
By Irish Echo Staff
The violence on the border between Israel and the Gaza strip has prompted expressions of shock and dismay from the Irish government.
Dozens of Palestinians were reported killed today by Israeli troops as the violence escalated against the backdrop of the U.S. Embassy to Israel moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney - who just last week expressed his government’s alarm at the United States breaking away from the nuclear accord with Iran - said that over the last weeks he had repeatedly expressed his dismay at the on-going deaths of Palestinians in Gaza “due to Israel’s use of live ammunition in response to demonstrations.”
Said Coveney in a statement earlier today: “I am profoundly shocked that already this morning, dozens more people have been shot dead by Israeli forces. Thousands more have suffered life-changing injuries,”
“I am gravely concerned that the use of force seems disproportionate to the reported threat, and I reiterate that an independent investigation is urgently needed, as called for by the UN Secretary-General.
“It is essential that Israeli forces show restraint, if this tragic death toll is not to climb even higher. In the context of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, I call on all leaders to ensure that their statements today promote calm and do not further inflame tensions.”
President Michael D. Higgins expressed his concern at the loss of lives, the large number of injuries and the escalating violence at the Gaza border.
He said in a statement: “As President of Ireland I wish to express my deep concern at the deaths and injuries arising from the continued violent confrontations at the Gaza border.
“The escalating loss of life in Gaza is a tragic example of an unacknowledged failure of diplomacy. Now is the time for all of us to give voice to the yearning among our citizens for new thinking on achieving peaceful resolutions to the conflicts which challenge us all.
“What is urgently needed now are tangible steps to support a credible, internationally-led process towards peace and security in the region, which alone can bring a brighter, more inclusive future for all.
“At this very dangerous moment in time for the Middle East, I call on all involved to return to meaningful diplomacy, to avoid escalation and show the utmost care and respect for international treaties and agreements.”
Later today, Minister Coveney said that Ireland would not be moving its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv “unless and until there is a comprehensive agreement on a broader peace process.”
He told RTÉ that he thought it was “unwise” for the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at this time.
“It is also unwise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem” because it was “inflaming an already very tense situation and relationship between Palestinians and Israelis.”
The New York Times, in a report, noted that by midday Sunday fewer than half the 86 countries represented diplomatically in Tel Aviv had signaled acceptance of an Israeli foreign ministry celebration for the U.S. embassy opening.
The report mentioned four European Union member nations that had accepted. Ireland was not one of the four.