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Halligan to tell Israelis to treat Palestinian people 'in a more humane way'

The Waterford TD has been a long-time ‘friend of Palestine’.

Image: Sam Boal

MINISTER OF STATE for Training and Skills, John Halligan is to travel to Palestine and Israel next week.

In a statement, the Independent Alliance TD said he is “a friend of Palestine” and has always supported the Palestinian cause.

The Irish government does not recognise the state of Palestine.

Halligan went on to say the Independent Alliance was instrumental in getting a commitment in the programme for government to recognise the State of Palestine.

He said he believes it will come before the Dáil after Christmas and must be backed by government.

Raising it at government level 

The Waterford TD has raised the Palestinian conflict in the Dáil over the last number of years. He said he is hoping his four-day visit will help to highlight the cause of the Palestinian people at government level.

“I will be impressing on the Israeli representatives that I meet the need to recognise the Palestinian State and to deal with the Palestinian people in a more humane way,” Halligan said.

In 2014, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan faced down a number of calls to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.

‘Appalling and unacceptable’

Speaking in the Dáil in July 2014, when Halligan was in the opposition benches, he said:

The manner in which Israel treats the Palestinians would not be tolerated from any other state in the world. It is appalling and unacceptable.
Given this country’s record in condemning human rights violations around the world, the time has come for us to call in the Israeli ambassador and make it clear to him that we will not accept people, some as young as 17 years of age, being arrested without charge, interned without charge and tortured…
Ireland is a country that has always stood up for human rights around the world and condemned the Israelis. It is not good enough to do, as some have suggested, and just show our concern; we must express our condemnation.

However, Halligan is now a member of government.

So, will he have to be more diplomatic in his approach with officials.

Halligan told TheJournal.ie that he will not falter from his beliefs just because he is a minister.

“The Israelis know my position… I will of course be courteous to them. I will be calling on them to recognise the State of Palestine. I think it is the only way forward,” he said.

Meetings in Israel and Palestine  

Beginning his trip on Monday, the minister is to meet representatives of both communities and visit training and education facilities in both Palestine and Israel.

Among the representatives that Minister Halligan will meet include the Irish Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, Representative of Ireland in Palestine, Jonathan Conlon, the Palestinian Minister for Education, Sabri Saidam, and the Palestinian Minister for Labour, Ma’moun Abu Shahla.

He will also receive a briefing by Scott Anderson, Director of UNRWA West Bank Field Office in Jerusalem, meet with the East Jerusalem Education Directorate and visit two schools – Al Aytan and Al Huda – in the Old City, East Jerusalem.

On Thursday, Halligan will visit the Aida refugee camp near Bethleham, which is operated by UNRWA and will also visit the Centre for Vocational Training, managed by the Palestinian Ministry of Labour.

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