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Coveney says he had ‘frank dialogue’ with Benjamin Netanyahu about Gaza

Coveney has previously said that it is time for the international community to act to save Gaza.

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has described his meeting with Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu as “frank”.

On his third day of his visit to the Middle East, Coveney said the main focus of their discussion was Gaza and the need to progress a peaceful dialogue.

“Since taking up office I have made helping to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict in the Middle East a personal priority. Today I am visiting Israel and Palestine for the third time in pursuit of that objective. I am glad to have been able, once again, to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“We had an open and frank dialogue, discussing possibilities and concerns, issues we agreed on and issues we did not. As in my meetings earlier today with other key Israeli figures, and with Palestinian leaders, my focus was primarily on looking ahead to areas where we hope to make a difference,” said the minister

Coveney said they also discussed the wider political process, including initiatives the United States have been pursuing, and how Ireland and the European Union can play a constructive role in encouraging a return to real negotiations.

The minister said he raised the recent ”regrettable events”.

Last month 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops during protests along the Gaza border against the US embassy opening in Jerusalem.

At the time, Coveney summoned the Israeli ambassador to a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs to express Ireland’s “shock and dismay” at the level of death and injury on the Gaza Strip. He called for restraint from Israel.

Describing the recent events as “deeply regrettable” Coveney said he stressed the urgent need to break the “downward spiral” of the situation in Gaza stating that it is “clearly unsustainable”.

“I followed up my earlier discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the possibilities for practical ways to help change the dynamic in Gaza, to the benefit of both sides,” said Coveney, who added that Netanyahu “set out clearly his government’s views, concerns and ideas on all of these issues”.

Since taking office, the minister has visited the Middle East and Gaza a number of times. Writing for TheJournal.ie about his last trip, he said:

“The tensions, frustration and danger I saw then are at boiling point now. It is time for the international community to act to save Gaza.”

This is not the first time Coveney has met with Netanyahu. Last year their meeting did not go so well, with the Israeli prime minister posting a message to Facebook expressing criticism of Ireland’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Since tensions have escalated in the region, there have been calls by some TDs for the Irish government to recognise the State of Palestine. The Dáil voted unanimously to recognise it in 2014.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said recognising the State of Palestine could “undermine the important humanitarian work” Ireland does in the region.

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