October 19, 2023
Gaza cannot become the graveyard of international law – Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has said that Gaza cannot become the graveyard of international law.

Speaking in the Dáil during statements on the situation in the Middle East and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, she criticised the failure of the Irish Government, and of governments across the European Union and the world, to condemn Israeli violations of international law.

Teachta McDonald added that Ireland can and must be a leading voice for dialogue, a just settlement, ceasefires and peace.

Mary Lou McDonald’s full contribution can be read below:

The people of the world are witness to a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Israel has unleashed the weight of its military might upon a beleaguered refugee population. It rains its arsenal of missiles down upon two million impoverished people hemmed into an area half the size of County Louth. This indiscriminate mass slaughter of innocent men, women and children is carried out in full sight of the world and in full sight of international leaders who have failed and refused to shout, “Stop.” They see clearly the carnage and human rights violations inflicted on the people of Gaza. They have heard the Palestinian people described as animals. They have long known that Israel imposes an apartheid regime.

Our hearts break for the loss of Israeli lives on that fateful night of 7 October, but be very clear that the Israeli offences against Palestine predate that night of horrific loss, which has been roundly and fully condemned. That condemnation stands in stark contrast to the refusal and failure of our own Government in Dublin and of governments across the European Union and the world to condemn Israeli violations of international law. I believe that is shameful.

I remind our Government that the recitation of all our interventions and charitable acts for the Palestinian people does not relieve it of its primary responsibility to hold Israel accountable to the world for its acts of impunity and violation of international law. We in Ireland know all too well the pain and tragedy of colonisation, occupation and dispossession. We have known conflict and suffering. We have known war. We know peace. There is no excuse and no pretence that we do not understand the playbook of the coloniser, the occupier and the oppressor. We carried that weight and trauma for centuries.

We still work to this day to reconcile, heal divisions and bring people together.

Our history now speaks powerfully to us. It calls on us to speak out, to act in defence of Palestine and to act for freedom and self-determination. It also tells us that Ireland can and must be a leading voice for dialogue, a just settlement, ceasefires and peace. To paraphrase the words of a great peacemaker lost to us this week, we know that conflict can be solved through dialogue and that there is no excuse for conflicts to become eternal. As Palestinians pull their dead from the rubble and cry out to the heavens for justice, Gaza cannot become the graveyard of international law. Decimated Gazan neighbourhoods cannot become monuments to the international community’s tolerance, acceptance and facilitation of Israel’s violation of Palestinian basic human rights.

As we speak, the Gazan people face annihilation. Entire families are being wiped out, hundreds of thousands are being displaced from their homes, and their schools, hospitals and vital infrastructure are being obliterated. They are now running out of food. They are drinking unsanitised water in a desperate attempt to stay alive. They are blockaded on all sides and cut off from medical supplies, fuel and energy. Israel is laying waste to Palestinian life in Gaza with the imprimatur of some of the world’s most powerful entities. For generations, the people of Palestine have endured this daily brutalisation. Their lands have been occupied and annexed, their people displaced, their homes and school bulldozed to the ground, their sons and daughters executed and incarcerated, and their lives ravaged by apartheid.

Israel acts with impunity, discarding international law and flouting UN resolution after resolution. This current onslaught, bombardment and collective punishment is the horrible but very predictable crescendo of occupation, annexation and oppression. As the people of Gaza cling to their very existence, the leadership of the international community must now resurrect those values it claims to hold dear. With one voice, we must call for immediate and full lasting ceasefires. Unified, we must call on Israel to end its bombardment of Gaza and stop the indiscriminate slaughter. Together, with one voice, we must assert the primacy of international law and dialogue as the only basis for a just resolution and a foundation for a lasting and transformational peace. That is the only way the children of Gaza and Ramallah, and the children of Tel Aviv and Haifa, will see the future they deserve, free of conflict and hatred, and a life of peace led as full and equal citizens.

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