Northern Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald: Israel and Palestine conflict needs Ireland's intervention

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald Mary Lou McDonald

Once again, the conflict in the Middle East has reached a dangerous and frightening precipice.

The attacks perpetrated by Hamas at the weekend have rightly met with outrage and condemnation in Ireland and throughout the world.

There can be no justification for targeting of civilians and the taking of civilians as hostages. My thoughts are with everyone who was hurt and harmed, and we hope for the safety of Irish citizen, Kim Damti who is missing following the attack on the music festival where so many people were killed.

These attacks occurred against the backdrop of deep injustice as Palestinian self-determination is ruthlessly suppressed.

For decades, the Israeli state has breached International law day in and day out with collective punishment, annexation, confiscation of lands and the imposition of an apartheid regime.

The international community has not looked the other way, but have facilitated Israel's breaches of international law, purposely undermining the pathway and efforts to achieve a two-state solution.

Read more:

  • Israel pounds Gaza neighbourhoods as people scramble for safety
  • Lord Kilclooney describes Israel's actions as a 'war crime'
  • Death toll from Hamas attack on Israel ‘rises to more than 1,000'

Israel’s retaliation and collective punishment of the people of Gaza is now underway. Israeli missiles rain down upon an impoverished, beleaguered population of two million people, half of whom are children.

In a chilling warning, Israel’s defence minister said: “I have ordered a complete siege on Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.”

Innocent Palestinian men, women and children are staring annihilation in the eye. It is a repeated horror that the Palestinian people have faced for generations.

The international community now faces an immediate test of its commitment to peace, justice, and self-determination.

To stop the cycle of violence, we need ceasefires, the renewal of dialogue, and the rigorous enforcement of international law equally for all. We need to see an end to the occupation and an end to Israel’s apartheid regime that violates the rights of Palestinians.

Ireland can play an immensely positive role in achieving this goal. Our history of oppression, colonisation, and dispossession means we are uniquely placed to make a real difference. The Irish peace process shows that there is always a way to resolve even the most bitter, intractable situations.

Even the darkest of times, we can find the chink through which the light of hope can enter. Through our powerful diplomatic standing, Ireland can and must be to the fore in driving a decisive international intervention in the Middle East.

An intervention that upholds the primacy of international law to bring about a just settlement and a lasting peace.

:: Mary Lou McDonald is Preisdent of Sinn Féin.