Gilmore backs Palestinian bid for UN membership

TÁNAISTE Eamon Gilmore yesterday offered his full support for Palestine’s bid for membership of the United Nations during his address to the General Assembly in New York.

The 15-member UN Security Council will meet tomorrow to consider the Palestinian application.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade was speaking on the last day of a busy trip to the US and he used the opportunity to deliver a strong message, saying “after 20 years of failed initiatives, disillusionment about the capacity of the political process to deliver a settlement is deepening”.

The Palestinian leadership is seeking a vote on full statehood as soon as possible, and will consider the request against the backdrop of rising tensions in the West Bank.

The Tánaiste warned the assembly that the position of what he described as the “moderate Palestinian leadership [was] under threat” and that “young Palestinians, in particular, are frustrated and despairing”.

“Everybody knows what a final and comprehensive settlement would involve: two states, based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed swaps, living side by side in peace and security.

“Ireland strongly opposes all action which serves to hinder or delay negotiation, such as violent attacks on civilians and their property or Israel’s illegal settlement of occupied Palestinian territory.

“The decision of President Abbas to seek Palestine’s membership of the United Nations is entirely legitimate and understandable. Palestine has the same right to membership of the United Nations as Ireland or any other member.”

The Labour leader urged Israel to halt settlement expansion and end the blockade of Gaza, while dismissing objections against the Palestinian bid based on ongoing negotiations over its border, claiming this should also mitigate against Israel.

“Membership of the UN of itself, however, would not change the unstable and unacceptable situation on the ground. It does not remove the compelling need for negotiations.”

Mr Gilmore once again praised events elsewhere in the Middle East, but also took time to mention the ongoing strife in Syria.

“The situation in Syria continues to arouse the deepest international concern. President Assad and his Government seem oblivious to the demands of the Syrian people for change.

“They appear determined to respond with further oppression and violence. No leader who refuses to listen to what his people are saying and to act on their clearly expressed desire for peace and reform can expect to remain in power.”

Prior to delivering his address, the Tánaiste met with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. The two discussed developments in the Middle East, nutrition and food security, and gender equality. The UN chief expressed his appreciation for Ireland’s ongoing commitment to the UN.

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