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Tánaiste to Meet Political Leaders in Middle East

Tánaiste Micheál Martin will travel to Israel, the West Bank and neighbouring Jordan this week for a series of high-level political engagements amid what he described as a “worrying escalation in violence” in the region.

Mr Martin will arrive in Jerusalem this evening and is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the next several days.

In the Israel-occupied West Bank, the Tánaiste will meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

The Tánaiste described this week’s visit as an opportunity to observe the political, security and human rights situation in the region.

Last month, the United Nations said that this year has been the deadliest in the Israel-Palestine conflict since 2005, noting that more than 200 Palestinians and nearly 30 Israelis have been killed in clashes so far this year.

“There has been a worrying escalation in violence over recent months,” Mr Martin said in a statement.

“Ireland has been consistent in its calls for the protection of civilians and the application of international law.”.

The violence comes as Israel’s far-right government, led by Mr Netanyahu, continues to push for an expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which it captured in a 1967 war.

Ireland, like most countries, believes the settlements are a violation of international law and constitute an “obstacle” to peace.

Israel, whose military controls more than half of West Bank territory, disputes this view.

Mr Martin said he intends to discuss these issues directly with political leaders.

He will also meet with UN and civil society partners that are providing support to people in the region.

Nearly a decade after US-brokered peace talks on the Israel-Palestine conflict collapsed, the hopes of establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem remain moribund.

Later in the week, the Tánaiste will visit Jordan, in the first official visit to the country since Ireland opened an embassy in Amman, the capital.

There, he will meet with Ayman Safadi, the country’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

Mr Martin will also meet with refugees in the country, which houses a significant number of people who have fled neighbouring Syria and Palestine.

Source : RTE