Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs barred from entering Gaza
December 4, 2009 08:09 EST
Micheal Martin – © Unknown
Mr Martin had intended to visit the troubled territory later this month to assess the humanitarian situation, but his request was turned down by officials who he claims gave no adequate reason for their rejection.
Speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee Mr Martin said he was anxious to visit the disputed land.
“I would like to see real progress in opening up Gaza and ending the unjustified blockade of its population,” he added.
“The continuation of the blockade is only providing succour to the extremists and raising, rather than reducing the risk, of further conflict in the region.”
The minister told the committee he hoped a European Council gathering in Brussels on Monday would help peace negotiations get back on track.
“If progress is not quickly realised and the situation remains at an impasse, then the international community as a whole may need to re-consider what further pressure it can bring in favour of achieving a negotiated, two-State settlement,” he said.
The turning down of Minister Martin’s request follows the refusal of similar applications by British, French and Turkish authorities.
Bernard Durkan, chairman of the Oireachtas committee described the Israeli Government’s decision as an intolerable affront.
“That an Irish Foreign Minister is not permitted to visit a region to assess a humanitarian situation is almost without precedent and is tantamount to censorship,” he said.