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Friday July 10, 2009 20:00 by TD - Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon
"The most powerful states in the EU, most notably Germany, offer unconditional support to the Israeli rogue state"
Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon (IFPAL) is an organisation founded in June 2009 to call for a No vote in the imminent second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, on the grounds that the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is inimical to the interests of the Palestinian people and detrimental to Ireland's relationship with the Arab and Islamic world.
IFPAL introduced itself by means of a demonstration outside the EU Parliament Offices in Dublin's Molesworth Street on 9th July. This date was chosen because it was the fifth anniversary of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determining the illegality of Israel's construction of a Wall on occupied Palestinian territory, and insisting that third states should offer Israel no "aid or assistance" in the construction of that Wall, nor should they "recognise the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the Wall." As it happened, this meant that IFPAL was probably the first anti-Lisbon group on the street after the announcement on 8th July by Taoiseach Brian Cowen that the Lisbon Referendum would be re-run on 2nd October.
IFPAL distributed leaflets citing Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern's admission on 11th March 2008 that Israel's blockade of Gaza "constitutes collective punishment and is illegal under international humanitarian law" and querying why Israel nonetheless continues to receive trading privileges under the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, Article 2 of which makes such privileges conditional on "respect for human rights and democratic principles".
In IFPAL's view, this is "because the most powerful states in the EU, most notably Germany, offer unconditional support to the Israeli rogue state... EU policy is geared towards assuaging Germany's sense of guilt towards the Jewish people, thereby scapegoating the Palestinians, while appeasing powerful Zionist lobbies in France and Britain... Ireland has sacrificed its traditionally pro-Palestinian policy in the interests of 'consensus' with its EU 'partners'." The leaflet concluded: "A vote against the Lisbon Treaty will impede the transformation of the EU into an imperial superstate, contemptuous of the rights of oppressed nations."
Simultaneously, a letter signed by IFPAL founders Seán Clinton and Raymond Deane was handed in to the EU Parliament Office. This letter clarified the link between the anniversary of the ICJ's Advisory Opinion and Ifpal's campaign for a No vote: It is the view of IFPAL... that the European Union (EU), including the government of Ireland, has failed to live up to its responsibilities under the terms of this Advisory Opinion which, while it does not have mandatory status, nonetheless clarifies beyond ambiguity the situation under international law and international humanitarian law. In particular, we believe that the trading privileges accorded the Israeli rogue state under the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, in violation of Article 2 of that agreement which makes its implementation conditional on the observance of human rights norms by both partners, consitute de facto “aid or assistance” and a recognition of “the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall.” We note with deep concern the fact that, although the EU Parliament called for the Agreement's suspension in 2002 in the wake of particularly heinous Israeli crimes (which nonetheless have been surpassed by subsequent atrocities such as the onslaught on Gaza last December-January), not alone has it not been suspended but in June 2008 the EU agreed to “upgrade” Israel's trading and political links to the Union.
We in IFPAL believe that the Irish government, in acceding however reluctanty to this ever closer embrace of Israel, is acting against the interests and the best political traditions of the Irish people, and is allowing Irish foreign policy to be dictated by larger and more powerful EU countries such as Germany, France, and the UK. These countries, for historical reasons that do not pertain in Ireland, and in response to pressure from powerful Zionist lobbies, embrace Israel without concern for the rights of the Palestinian people.
For these reasons, we believe it is time for a dramatic change of direction in the EU, and are calling for a NO vote in the imminent second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
It is IFPAL's belief that the issue of Palestine has come to illustrate with increasing clarity the iniquity of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. We also believe that the constant linkage of “Foreign” and “Security” issues, and indeed the proposed embodiment of this linkage in an EU Foreign Minister or "High Representative of the Union for foreign affairs and security policy" , sends a false message and is ultimately bound up with the EU's militaristic yearning for ever closer linkage with NATO . This conviction was cemented by France's startling application last March to rejoin the NATO command structure after a 40-year absence.
Ultimately, IFPAL believes that peace and justice are the primary guarantees of security, while huge military alliances like NATO serve merely to create occasions for warfare. It will also be recalled that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern brought Ireland into NATO's so-called “Partnership for Peace” without a referendum, despite his election promise to “oppose Irish participation in NATO itself, [and] in NATO-led organisations such as the Partnership for Peace “. This testifies once again to the readiness of our politicians to discard professed principles in the interest of cozying up to the military-industrial complex.
Caption: Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon : Protest, EU Parliament Ofices, Dublin