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To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in view of Ireland's hosting of the EU presidency, the proactive steps he has taken to address the violation of international law by Israel, most recently their aerial bombardment inside Syria; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For PRIORITY answer on Thursday, 16th May, 2013.

REPLY 

The Deputy is aware that EU policy on the Middle East is coordinated and led by High Representative and the EAS, not by the rotating national Presidency.

An ever present danger in the Syrian crisis has been that it would escalate to engulf the wider region. Recent events, such as the alleged Israeli bombing of a target in Syria, the dreadful car bomb in Turkey last weekend, and the recent kidnapping of UNDOF peace-keepers in the Golan and the continuing threat facing personnel serving with this vital mission, reinforce those fears and underline the urgent need for concerted international action to achieve a peaceful resolution as well as provide urgent humanitarian assistance.

It is disappointing however if this particular incident is considered solely as another opportunity to focus on Israeli action, excluding the wider context. Israel is widely believed to have been responsible for an attack at a Syrian military base on 5 May, a further attack on a military convoy heading towards the Lebanese border on 2 May as well as an earlier incident in January, but this has not been confirmed. The Israeli government, as is its practice, has not officially commented or accepted responsibility for these attacks.

I am of course concerned if this is indeed the case, but I am also concerned about the reported movement of advanced weapons from Syria to supply Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the use of these weapons by Hezbollah in attacks on Israeli cities. It does no good to focus blindly on one side of a complex and multiparty conflict.

All sides in the internal Syrian conflict and in the wider region need to step back clearly from the brink and show restraint at this critical juncture.

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