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Written Answers - Middle East Peace Process

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 157.  Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  if he will support the Palestinian hunger strikers before the political situation in Israel gets out of control. [24322/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I have followed closely the hunger strikes undertaken by a large number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. I have stated publicly my view that the widespread use by Israel of administrative detention should cease, and that the punitive conditions imposed on prisoners while Gilad Shalit was in captivity should be ended. EU Missions in the Palestinian territories — including our Mission in Ramallah — made a public statement expressing concern at the hunger strikes and the use of administrative detention last week. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv also conveyed my views directly to the Foreign Ministry. In addition, officials in my Department conveyed to the Israeli Ambassador my view that a solution must be found which will enable the strikes to come to an end without a tragic outcome.

I am very pleased, therefore, by the announcements from both Israeli and Palestinian officials that agreements have been reached on the issues under contention, and that all prisoners have accordingly agreed to end their hunger strikes. Details will emerge in due course, but it is understood that Israel has extensively reviewed the issues raised by the prisoners, and is to reduce its recourse to administrative detention, as well as to make changes in prison conditions, including ending solitary confinement for many prisoners, and permitting family visits from Gaza. The prisoners have for their part made various undertakings. It will be possible at a later stage to assess what long-term changes have been made.

I very much welcome the outcome to this episode. I welcome Israel’s response to the representations made to it and its agreement to what are apparently substantive changes in practice. It is also important to acknowledge the very helpful role played by the Egyptian Government in mediating between the two sides.


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