President Michael D. Higgins this met with a group of Ambassadors to Ireland representing Arab nations at Áras an Uachtaráin. The meeting followed a request made by the Dean of the Group, H.E. the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, Mr Lahcen Mahraoui, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, to discuss recent developments in the Middle East with the President.
At the meeting, the President discussed with the Ambassadors the present situation in Gaza and Israel, as well as the possible future for the region beyond the present horrendous loss of lives.
The President emphasised in particular that the loss of civilian life, and threats of loss of life, was an urgent matter and must be brought to an end as soon as possible. The President referenced his and the Irish Government’s condemnation of all such losses of civilian life - the breaches of international law involved in the attacks on civilians by Hamas and the response to it. He reiterated his statements that the taking of hostages is in breach of international law and that all hostages must be released.
The President stressed to the Ambassadors the agony and distress to which Irish citizens directly involved, as part of the hostages taken or those not enabled to leave the conflict zones, are being exposed.
President Higgins paid tribute to those, including medical personnel and teachers, who have stayed with the people of Gaza and the courage and humanity which they have shown in near impossible conditions in hospitals and schools, noting in particular the high loss of life among those working in humanitarian organisations.
The President referenced the statements of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste over the past month and, in particular, the additional funding of €13 million – €10 million for UNRWA and €3 million for UN OCHA’s Palestine Humanitarian Fund – which has been committed by Government, bringing Ireland’s total contribution to the people of Palestine in 2023 to €29 million. The President further noted the Taoiseach’s attendance at today’s International Conference on Humanitarian Assistance to Gaza taking place in Paris.
The President shared with the Ambassadors how in his discussions on a future past the present, including with both the President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas and the President of Israel Isaac Herzog over the last year, he has emphasised the importance of how in efforts of achieving a sustainable and lasting peace in the Middle East, the President has called for a diverse body of proposals to be brought forward in a sustained engagement with the deeper issues, one which can allow both for the security of the citizens of Israel and for the rights of the Palestinian people to be delivered.
Reflecting on the numerous visits which he has made to Israel and Palestine, including Gaza, over a number of decades, President Higgins suggested at today’s meeting that talks for the future must place a primacy on the importance of a two-State solution, in line with the resolutions which have been passed at the United Nations. This requires acknowledging the importance of a Palestinian State having contiguity, viability, the right to be a member of the international multilateral institutions and appropriate sovereignty. The President further reflected with the Ambassadors on the value which a permanent secretariat had brought to the Northern Irish peace process by ensuring that a mechanism was in place for continuity in consideration of the key issues to be overcome, and the necessity for parity of esteem.
The group of Ambassadors who met with the President today were:
Mr Lahcen Mahraoui, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco
Mrs Jilan Abdalmajid, Ambassador of the State of Palestine
Mr Mohamed Sarwat Selim, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Mr Mohammed Hmoud Hamad Rahma Alshamsi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates
Mr Nail Al-Jubeir, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia
Mr Mohammed Belaoura, Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
Mr Mohammad Al-Mohammad, Ambassador of the State of Kuwait
Mr Mohammed Al Basheer, Chargé d’affaires a.i of Soudan
Mr Saad Al Johashi, Chargé d’affaires a.i of Iraq