Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has expressed his disappointment that the United Nations Security Council could not agree a clear joint statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “not even a call for a ceasefire”.
Following the meeting in New York on Monday, Mr Coveney said Irish diplomats were “working hard to try to find a way to make progress”.
Ireland is currently one of the members of the UN Security Council. The US is understood to have blocked the text drafted by China, Tunisia and Norway.
— Irish Foreign Ministry (@dfatirl) May 16, 2021
In an address to the Seanad as he opened a debate on the situation in Gaza and Israel, Mr Coveney said the scale of deaths and injuries to civilians is reprehensible.
“The plight of children is shocking. Over 60 children have been killed in just over a week in this latest escalation.
“No child, anywhere, should have to endure the trauma of an onslaught of rockets and missiles.” He added that “children are never a legitimate target regardless of where they’re located or who is located nearby”.
“The numbers of Palestinian civilians killed – and a quarter of them children – flies in the face of humanity. It is just not acceptable.”
The deaths of Israeli citizens are unacceptable, he said, as he repeated his call on all factions in Gaza to halt attacks on Israel immediately.
But he said Israel’s response was disproportionate and Gaza, in particular, children and families have nowhere to run to escape the violence. “Unlike their Israeli neighbours, they have no bomb shelters to flee to. They are locked into this tiny piece of land, 25 miles by five miles, densely populated with 2.1 million people who are bombarded night after night.”
Mr Coveney said the international community should and must come together to enable all efforts to reach a ceasefire.
EU foreign ministers meet in emergency session on Tuesday to discuss the hostilities and Mr Coveney said he would “underline the need for strong EU engagement – both on the current hostilities and to address the root causes of the conflict which we have repeatedly tried to focus political attention on”.