April 15, 2024
Senator Paul Gavan secures debate on Gaza at Council of Europe

Senator Paul Gavan has secured a debate on Gaza at this week’s sitting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

He said: ”The debate will be important in standing up for the people of Gaza and standing up for the independence of Ireland’s foreign policy in the face of Ursula von der Leyen’s disgraceful attempts to run roughshod over our neutrality.”

Senator Gavan fought hard to secure the debate as the Human Rights Assembly, which sits just four times a year, had originally planned to exclude the topic from all discussion at the spring session which begins today in Strasbourg.

Before setting off for Strasbourg Senator Gavan, who is running in the upcoming European Elections for Sinn Féin in Ireland South, welcomed the move by the Presidential Bureau of the Assembly.

Senator Gavan said:

”When I discovered that Gaza had been excluded, I immediately wrote to the President of the Assembly and also asked the United European Left (UEL) to draft a proposal requesting a debate.

”I did so because I could not accept that the Assembly, knowing that genocide is taking place in Gaza, was going to spend a week discussing “human rights” without even a mention of the calculated destruction and mass starvation of the population of this part of occupied Palestine.

”While the Council of Europe and the European Union are separate entities, there is a sharing of core values, values such as human rights and democracy which must be defended and upheld. There are common issues we must discuss.

”This debate comes at a time when Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen has failed to stand up for the human rights of the beleaguered people of Gaza, while her push to intensify the militarisation of the EU undermines the independence of Ireland’s foreign policy and our military neutrality. It’s disgraceful. Ms von der Leyen should not be re-elected for a second term.

“The debate will take place on Thursday and will centre on the role that the Council of Europe could play in trying to end this man-made catastrophe in Gaza.

”I will lead the debate for the UEL Group and will call on Council member states to take meaningful action to secure an immediate ceasefire.

”They should immediately impose an arms embargo on the apartheid state of Israel, and suspend the trade agreement between Israel and the European Union.”

Senator Gavan was originally proposed by the UEL Group to introduce the debate, but members of the Presidential Bureau objected as he had previously referred to Israel as an Apartheid State.

He added: “Member states know that respected organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch , the United Nations Special Rapporteur, and over 450 other NGOs, including Jewish human rights groups like B’tselem, all maintain that Israel is an Apartheid state.

”Shamefully, those at the centre of power in the EU would rather it not be mentioned.

”We have a duty to keep confronting Israel’s apartheid and crimes against the Palestinian people. The only thing that will transform this horrific situation is an immediate and full ceasefire and the renewal of a peace process grounded in international law and with the aim of achieving Palestinian freedom and statehood.”

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