Gaza Visit - Prelude:

20 July 2009

by Cllr Joe Costello

See Link to Joe's Daily Blog from Gaza on

A delegation of members of the European Affairs Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee will visit Israel and the Palestinian Territories beginning today, on a fact-finding mission.

The Joint Committee Members were shocked by the Israeli military incursion into Gaza over the Christmas period resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 civilians and the destruction of an enormous amount of property including schools and hospitals and the HQ of the UN Relief Agency (UNWRA).

While the conflict was still raging the EU Affairs Committee agreed two resolutions unanimously. One resolution in my name called inter alia for “an immediate review of the existing EU Israeli Trade Agreement in terms of its required compliance with human rights, democratic principles and international law”.

The second resolution in the name of Deputy Michael Mulcahy proposes to determine “whether or not as a matter of fact there has been a breach of Article 2, i.e. the violation of human rights, of the EU Israel Europe-Mediterranean Association Agreement of 1995”. It was agreed the following people would be invited to give testimony at the EU Affairs Committee so that the Committee could determine as accurately as possible what had happened and whether the terms of the trading agreement with Israel had been breached:

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Rapportuer on Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967 and the EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, and other persons such as Dick Spring who was the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister when the Agreement was drawn up in 1995.

The visit of the Parliamentary delegation to Israel and the Palestinian Territories in a fact-finding mission will also assist the work of the EU Affairs Committee. The delegation will meet as many people as possible, study the events that happened as well as the situation that now prevails and seek to identify a useful way forward.

The delegation will depart for Jerusalem on Monday 20th July visit, the conflict area of Gaza on Tuesday, meet with members of the Knesset including the leader of the opposition Mrs Tzipi Livi and Government Ministers on Wednesday, visit the West Bank and meet the Palestinian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Riyad Makki on Thursday. Various Human Rights Organisations and NGO’s will be met in the course of the visit. The delegation returns home on Friday 24th July and will present a report to the Foreign Affairs and European Affairs Committee.

I will be writing up my experiences on a daily basis on my blog