Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Gerry Adams view of the way forward for the Isrealie Palestine conflict.

In April Gerry Adams led a Sinn Féin delegation to Palestine/Isreal and in late June they released their report ‘Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, April 2009 – A Report’. Below are some of the main points in the report.

Whilst I do not wish to deflect from the Palestinian cause, I find it impossible to read without thinking of the steps taken to bring about the current settlement in the north and I ask myself where would we be now if Sinn Féin had not gone down the path it did and Adams had not led the process in the way he did.



It is obvious that the political conditions for ongoing violence and poverty and instability still dominate the situation.

These must be tackled effectively if a peace settlement is to have any potential for success.

It was also clear from the scores of Israeli and Palestinian citizens that the Sinn Féin delegation met that there is a deep desire for peace.
This desire must be turned into reality.

I believe that dialogue is key to this.
The Sinn Féin peace strategy helped create the conditions for the Irish peace process, which has transformed political conditions in Ireland.

While no two conflicts are the same there are nonetheless broad principles which can be helpful in all conflict resolution processes.

Sinn Féin's position is that the integrity of all democratic mandates should be respected and accepted. And, clearly, any attempt to achieve peace must involve dialogue between opponents and enemies.

Sinn Féin's view of the situation.

In brief this included the following opinions:
_ The situation had deteriorated since my first visit in September 2006.
_ Israelis and Palestinians are destined to share the same piece of ground and to live side by side.
_ Everyone deserves and requires justice, stability, security and peace.
_ A two-state solution holds out the best prospect to secure these objectives.
_ Dialogue is central to this.
_ There should be a complete cessation of all hostilities and freedom of
movement for everyone.

What is needed:
_ The firing of rockets should cease.
_ The building of Separation Wall should stop as a first step towards its demolition.
_ The building of Settlements should stop.


Over a three week period from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 it is reported that:
_ Over 1400 people were killed including more than 400 children and over a hundred women.
_ Casualties were in the region of 5,000 including 1,800 children and almost 800 women.

The resultant suffering past and present, especially within a population of which 60% are under 18 years of age, can only store up a festering resentment which will fuel further conflict in the absence of a political settlement.

What is needed:
_ The siege of the Gaza strip should end.
_ International aid on an appropriately large scale should immediately be injected into the area to relieve suffering, restore essential services and kick start the reconstruction of the area.
_ All armed actions or threats of armed action should cease.

Several Palestinians, supporters of the peace process route, mature in both age and political experience told me that they feel as angry now as they did when they were teenagers.

They find, in themselves and their contemporaries, a hardening of attitudes.
Others voice the opinion that generations coming up, unless there is a peace settlement, will make Al Qaeda, in retrospect, looking like moderates.
During my two brief visits to the region and in my conversations with all of those I met I believe that there is a widespread desire for peace among Israelis and Palestinians.

The opinion polls consistently reflect this.

Dialogue has to be a central tenet of any attempt to make peace; to achieve justice, stability, security and peace.

Refusing to engage in dialogue; demonising opponents; treating them as non citizens; stripping them of their rights and entitlements, of their self esteem and integrity as human beings; engaging in censorship and vilification, makes war easier and peace harder.

It is a policy that guarantees a perpetuation of the cycle of conflict.

The international experience is clear.

There are two ways to end conflict. Either one side convincingly beats the other or all of those involved engage in the more difficult and challenging process of peace making.
61 years after the emergence of the Israeli state and the partition of Palestine, and with the increasing sophistication of the weapons of war on all sides, it is clear that no wall - however high -can provide permanent peace or security.

A political settlement is required and this is only possible if there is a recognition and acceptance of democratic mandates of all of the participants.

Peace making is conducted by and between enemies not between friends.

That means that a necessary element of a conflict resolution process in the Middle East, which hopes to achieve a successful outcome, must be an acceptance of inclusive dialogue based on equality and respect.

This required a serious, good faith effort to engage between political opponents.

And this will require determination and commitment to stick with it through all of the inevitable arguments and differences and crises that will emerge.

For Palestinians this means uniting in the national interest by agreeing a truly national political platform involving all of the Palestinian parties.
Fail to do this and the age old tactic of divide and rule will weaken the Palestinian ability to achieve their rights through negotiation.

Party political interests need to be subsumed in the national and democratic cause.

For the Israelis the challenge is equally daunting.

Israel is a major regional and world power.

It has the ability to continue to pursue and implement policies which foster division and conflict, or it can take dramatic decisions for peace.

For both a two-State solution appears to hold out the greatest prospect for an acceptable and durable solution.

Such a settlement would also greatly enhance Israel's standing with its neighbours.

The Arab League peace, which includes a proposal to normalise relationships with Israel, could be a watershed moment in the effort to bring stability to that region.

The recent positions set out by President Obama, and the appointment of Senator George Mitchell, are welcome developments. The United States of America has a particular role to play and is certainly the most influential international player on the Israeli authorities.

The wider international community also has an important role to play also, especially Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Saudi Arabia, the wider Arab world, the Government of Iran and the European Union, Turkey, China and the United Nations and Russia.

All can and must provide encouragement, incentives, persuasions, economic and other aid as appropriate and the application without fear or favour of internationally agreed laws and standards.

But in the end it is for Palestinians and Israelis to make the peace.

And that means the renewed commitment to agreements and understandings already reached as the basis to resume timetabled negotiations, for an overall settlement, which includes a timetable for Implementation.

_ All armed actions and acts of violence should cease.
_ An inclusive process of negotiations should commence in which all democratic mandates are respected, clear objectives are set, and there is a fixed timeframe.
_ The building of the Separation Wall should stop as a first step which would see its demolition.
_ The siege of the Gaza Strip should end.
_ An immediate and intensive programme of reconstruction and economic development must commence.
_ The ongoing Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and the building of settlements should stop.
_ The occupation of the West Bank and the denial of freedom of movement to Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and between the West Bank and Gaza, should end as part of the process to decolonise the West Bank.
_ Mutual and expeditious co-operation between Palestinians and Israelis to enhance public safety and security should commence.
_ United Nations Resolutions and International Law should be enforced.


  1. I read this report about a week ago and found it to be a pretty good assessment. IMHO given the calibre of the SF delegation that went over, and the fact that Israel banned them from entering Gaza, then next day as if by magic they were allowed through. Says a lot. I think the US is using our people to talk to HAMAS as Adams report went to Mitchell. I can see our people taking a role much like the ANC did in the North. I just hope Obama is dealing fairly and not using Republicans for some twisted strategy to screw the Palestinians. We well need to be careful I think with Obama.

  2. palestine,

    I doubt the palestinians could be screwed over anymore than thay have already. Sinn féin has a proud tradition of supporting the palestinian struggle and I hope Sinn Féin can play some useful role. However, i worry that useless there can be greater palestinian unity then Isreal will finds it easy to keep things going the way they are.

  3. It looks like Gerry Adams has missed the main point of the conflict, as does everyone who leans toward the Palestinians. As long as their stated goal is to destroy Israel and push it into the sea, what is the point of discussions. All of the other steps are cute and right out of the manual, but as long as Israelis are fearful for theirs lives on a daily basis, everything else is irrelevant.