Statement by Gerry Adams to a press conference in Jerusalem after his arrival on a two day visit to the Middle East, (5 September 2006)
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Statement by Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin, to a press conference in Jerusalem after his arrival on a two day visit to the Middle East, (5 September 2006)
"My name is Gerry Adams and I represent the Irish Republican Party Sinn Féin. Our main objective is the establishment of an all-Ireland Republic free from British rule in a United Independent Ireland.
Sinn Féin are central players in the Irish peace process. That process has yet to achieve its full potential and there are many difficulties and frustrations but huge progress has been made. Sinn Fe´in's commitment and intention is to continue that progress.
The purpose of this visit is very simple - to encourage the search for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. In our view it is imperative that genuine negotiation and dialogue between the representatives of the Palestinian and Israeli people commences as quickly as possible.
We are here at the invitation of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and I want to thank President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli peace activists we are meeting later this evening for the opportunity to speak to them.
It has been my intention to come here for some time. Indeed there was a long standing invitation from Abu Ammar President Arafat which I regret very much not being able to take up while he was alive. Various arrangements had to be cancelled because of the demands of the process in Ireland or of the priorities here. When President Arafat died I resolved that I would wait no longer. It has taken from then to fulfil that commitment and I am pleased to be here.
Let me tell you that Irish Republicans are very concerned as are the vast majority of thinking people about the suffering of people in this region.
Sinn Féin has no special magic formula to resolve the problems here. But we do believe they can be resolved. The Anglo-Irish conflict was once labelled as intractable. Talk of peace and of peace processes was dismissed as nonsense, as fantasy. But we proved the pessimists and cynics wrong.
Irish republicans are internationalists. We take a close interest in events outside of Ireland and we are always willing to learn and to share our experience with others seeking to build peaceful alternatives to conflict. Political will and courage in seeking peaceful alternatives to conflict is essential.
There is an enormous responsibility on political leaders and especially on governments to find peaceful alternatives. Governments have a responsibility to give leadership which is hope and life giving. That is the big challenge facing the Israeli government.
In my view the future security, strategic interests, freedom and rights of the people of Israel are locked into an acceptance, respect, recognition and defence by Israel of the rights, freedom and prospects of the people of Palestine. War is not the only option.
Building a political alternative, constructing a peace process which can deal with the causes of a conflict, and which can provide stability, justice and democracy, is an option also and one which would have the support of right thinking people world wide.
Of course the difficulties here are enormous. The conflict affects every aspect of peoples daily lives in Palestine and in Israel.
The hostile reaction of the Israeli government, of the EU and of the United States to the election results earlier this year have compounded these difficulties. The withdrawal of financial support to the Palestinian government and the increase in violence is entirely counter productive.
What is required is inclusive dialogue based on equality and parity of esteem. It is patently obvious after decades of conflict that there can be no military solution to what is essentially a political problem.
Irish republicans do not assume that what has worked in Ireland is relevant to every other situation. But we have learned that there are key principles which are applicable in any process of conflict resolution. These include;
Of course, it is for citizens here to work out and agree your own solutions. I appeal to all political leaders to make a fresh effort to rebuild the peace process.
All of us have to have an acceptance and openness toward other cultures. The notion that western culture or civilisation is better than any other is bogus. All cultures can learn from each other and change accordingly, peacefully and democratically. Suppression is not the way.
The role of the International Community and United Nations is crucial in all of this. So too is the role of the US government. The US, as a strong ally of Israel, has a key role to play.
In the Irish Peace Process the U.S. played a positive and encouraging role, recognising all of the democratic mandates of the participants, supporting dialogue, and dealing with everyone on the basis of equality. I would strongly urge a similar approach in respect of any efforts to rebuild the peace process here.
What is clearly required is a comprehensive and inclusive settlement. Such a settlement must be rooted on the rights of the people of Palestine and the people of Israel to live in mutual respect, security and peaceful co-existence and co-operation. Israelis and Palestinians have more to gain from peace than continuing conflict."
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
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