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Irish Bishops and Palestine/Israel (encouraging).

MAYNOOTH - 28 February 2007 - 300 words

*Irish Bishops call for justice in Palestine/Israel
*At a media conference in Dublin yesterday, Bishop Raymond Field, Chair
of the Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA), Bishop
John Kirby, Chair of Trócaire and Rev Dr Eoin Cassidy of the ICJSA,
launched a position paper /Palestine/Israel, Principles for a Just
Peace/ before a briefing meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Mr Dermot Ahern TD.

Bishop Field said: "Today we shall meet with Minister Ahern and raise
with him the issue of the EU-Israel Association agreement. While we
welcome cooperation between the EU and its neighbouring countries,
nevertheless such cooperation should not be at the expense of a large
segment of the indigenous population ­ in this case the Palestinians.
Where there is evidence of systematic abuse of human rights on a large
scale as in the Occupied Territories there are questions that must be
asked concerning the appropriateness of maintaining close business,
cultural and commercial links with Israel.

"We also intend to raise the issue of the restriction of movement in the
Occupied Territories. We are calling for an end to restrictions on
family reunification, and an end to humiliating treatment of people at
checkpoints. The Palestinian people need freedom of movement to work,
visit family, obtain medical treatment and be educated. At present it is
extremely difficult for Palestinian Christians from East Jerusalem to
pray at the Church of the Nativity or for Christians in Bethlehem to
attend Sunday Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. At
this time, no Bethlehem resident is allowed to visit Jerusalem without
special permission from the Israeli army. In effect, the communities of
Bethlehem and East Jerusalem are forced to live divided by a 25 foot
wall that surrounds Bethlehem on three sides.

"We also intend to raise with Minister Ahern the intolerable situation
that is the daily lot of the Palestinians who live in Gaza, a territory
just 6 miles wide and 25 miles long and home to 1.3 million
Palestinians. As things presently stand Gaza is little more than a large
prison. Israel retains control of its land borders, airspace and
territorial waters and imposes severe restrictions on the rights of
Palestinians in Gaza to either enter or leave the territory. This
injustice is exacerbated by the restrictions that are placed on
Palestinians engaged in a commercial activity such as fishing ­ a key
source of income in a territory such as Gaza with a relatively long

*/*Log on to *** <>*
for more information on the Irish Commission for Justice and Social
Affairs (ICJSA).

The ICJSA is a Commission of the Irish Bishops' Conference. Dr Seán
Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, launched it on
13 June 2005.

*/*© Independent Catholic News 2007*
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