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20 May 2004
Minister Cowen meets representatives of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to discuss the Middle East Peace Process
Date: 19 May 2004
Policy Area: General Affairs and External Relations
Content Type: Press Releases
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Brian Cowen T.D., today held discussions with a Ministerial delegation from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on the Middle East Peace Process.
The OIC delegation was led by the Foreign Minister of Malaysia, the Hon. Datuk Seri Seyd Hamid Albar and also included H.E. Abbas El Fassi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco; H.E. Dr Saeb Erekat, Minister in Charge of Negotiations for the Palestinian Authority; H.E. Sheikh Tidiance Gadio, Foreign Minister of Senegal; H.E. Besir Atalay, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey; and H.E. Abdel Wahab Belk Aziz, Secretary General of the OIC.
Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, Minister Cowen strongly condemned this afternoon's attack by the Israeli Defence Forces on Palestinian demonstrators in the Rafah district of Gaza. The Minister recalled that he had last week called twice for an end to violence in Gaza and for an immediate halt to Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes.
The Minister said, 'It is clear that today's action was completely disproportionate to any threat faced by the Israeli military and that Israeli forces showed a reckless disregard for human life. I would once again remind Israel, the occupying power, that the fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War is fully applicable to the Gaza Strip and in the case of a previous killing of innocent children in Gaza on 2 May that the targeting of innocent children in a conflict of this kind must always be condemned. The killing of children does not serve any legitimate cause and degrades any purpose which it purports to advance.'
The Minister added, 'It need not be this way in the Middle East. It is not fated to be this way. It is not destined to be this way.'
The Minister also said that he would like to see the Arab League Summit this weekend result in a renewal and reinvigoration of the Beirut Initiative.
Speaking at the press conference, Dr Saeb Erekat condemned today's attack 'as nothing short of a war crime.'