Cowen seeks access to Irish in West Bank


The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Brian Cowen, today asked Israel to allow Irish consular officials access to Irish nationals besieged in Ramallah and other Palestinian towns closed by Israeli forces.

In a phone conversation with the Israeli foreign minister this afternoon, Mr Cowen asked Mr Peres to use his position to ensure that Irish and other EU consular officials access to the Palestinian Territories for the purpose of escorting any of their citizens who wished to leave, to safety.

In light of the today’s escalation of violence, Mr Cowen asked that the evacuation should happen as soon as possible.

He also expressed his sympathies to the victims of recent terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens and called for implementation of UN Resolution 1402 which was adopted last Saturday morning.

The resolution calls on both parties to move immediately to a ceasefire and also calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah.

It also reiterates the Council’s demand, expressed in resolution 1397, for an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction.

In remarks delivered to a public meeting of the Council on the Middle East at the weekend the Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, said he was deeply alarmed at the rapid escalation of violence.

"Horrific terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, first in Netanya and then in Jerusalem, have been carried out," he said.

"Such attacks are aimed at undermining any prospect for a political settlement. I understand the anger of the Israeli Government and people over these attacks."

He also criticized Israel’s use of disproportionate lethal force, especially in civilian populated areas.

"Such use of force," the Secretary-General said, "will bring neither peace nor security to Israel."