Palestinians voice concerns about Sinn Féin Likud meetings
A PROMINENT Palestinian campaigner has urged Sinn Féin to break off its contact with an Israeli government party.
The call came after it emerged that west Belfast assembly member Pat Sheehan held a fresh round of talks with representatives of Likud.
The right wing party is headed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has been strongly criticised over its treatment of Palestinian civilians.
In recent weeks several Sinn Féin representatives have also visited Palestine including MLA Fra McCann and Senator Paul Gavan and met with the family of Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed.
Last month the party complained after Israeli authorities refused to allow Mr Sheehan to enter Gazza.
However, Palestinian academic Haidar Eid has called on the republican party to end its contact with Israeli authorities.
Mr Eid, who is an associate professor at al-Aqsa University in Gaza, made the call after it emerged that Mr Sheenan and the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson met with Likud and Palestinian representatives during a visit to the region last month.
The recent and previous meetings were arranged by a mediation group known as Forward Thinking.
“We've been disappointed, to say the least, about Sinn Féin’s meeting with a Zionist party whose members have explicitly defended and supported hate crimes committed against the Palestinians of Gaza, especially in 2014,” said Mr Eid.
“The reason why we are feeling Sinn Féin should not meet with Israeli parties that are part and parcel of Israel's multi-tired system of oppression is that we thought Sinn Féin was on our side, the same way it stood on the side of the oppressed South Africans and heeded their call for a blanket boycott of the Apartheid system.”
The campaigner said Palestinians have called on the “international community to boycott apartheid Israel, divest from it, and sanction it until it complies with international law by withdrawing its troops from the Arab Land….”
No-one from Sinn Féin was available to respond to Mr Eid's remarks.
However, the party did provide a link to comments previously made by Mr Sheehan about his recent trip.
“Part of our itinerary involved meeting representatives from a number of Israeli political parties. I impressed upon them the need for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people and a meaningful conflict resolution process that results in an independent Palestinian state,” he said.
“The message to them was clear: security won’t come from more oppressive measures, higher walls or more soldiers; it can only come through enemies making peace with each other.”
MEP Martina Anderson has also called on FIFA to suspend Israeli soccer clubs based in what she termed “illegal settlements” in the region.