Monday 24 September 2018

Varadkar: I said US decision to move embassy in Israel would cost lives, and it has

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Shona Murray

THE Taoiseach has blamed the US decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem for the deaths of nearly 60 Palestinians in Gaza.

Speaking at an EU summit in Bulgaria, Mr Varadkar told Independent.ie: "A few months ago we discussed the decision by the US to relocate its embassy in Jerusalem; we decided as Europe that that was a bad policy decision.

"At the time I said it would cost lives. It has.

"This was an erroneous decision by the US government," he added.

Mr Varadkar also said the Irish position is that Israel acted in breach of international law when it fired on protesters - even if some of them were armed.

"It is very much the view of the Irish government that Israel has used disproportionate force”, he said.

Palestinian protesters carry a wounded man shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian protesters carry a wounded man shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

"Even if the protests weren’t 100pc peaceful - and they weren’t 100pc peaceful, the use of force has to be proportionate.

"It has lead to the deaths of dozens of people, some of them unarmed; some of them children”, said Mr Varadkar.

The US administration has denied its embassy celebrations which took place on the anniversary of the creation of Israel were to blame for the violence.

Instead, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley laid the blame at Iran and Hamas – the militant organisation that is charged with administering Gaza.

 

Meanwhile the Taoiseach said Ireland is echoing the calls by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for an independent investigation in to the force used by the Israeli soldiers.

EU leaders are discussing the deaths in Gaza tonight, but there is not likely to be unity among all member states as to whether Israel should be sanctioned.

There are several differing views among EU governments as to how to deal with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the EU rarely has consensus on the issue.

“There are a number of EU states that are much closer to Israel than we would be.

“I think they may block any sanctions or moves”, the Taoiseach told Independent.ie

“However, certainly the perspective that I’ll be bringing to the table is that of the Irish government and that of the Irish people which is that we find the use of violence and the use of violence against people in Gaza absolutely unacceptable”, he added.

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