Palestinians ‘need the bombs to stop’: Irish PM Varadkar tells Biden

Ahram Online , AFP , Monday 18 Mar 2024

Palestinians "need the bombs to stop," Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said as he made an impassioned plea for a ceasefire in Gaza, speaking during a St Patrick's Day reception at the White House.

 Leo Varadkar
Ireland s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar speaks as President Joe Biden listens during a St. Patrick s Day reception in the East Room of the White House, Sunday, March 17, 2024. AP


"The people of Gaza desperately need food, medicine, and shelter, and most especially they need the bombs to stop," Varadkar said as Biden, who has come under pressure both internationally and at home over his support for ally Israel, looked on.

"The aspirations of the Palestinian people to have a homeland and a fully-fledged state in the land of their forefathers is equal to that of Israel's," said Varadkar, who has been one of Europe's most critical leaders of Israel's war on Gaza.

“The Irish people are deeply troubled about the catastrophe that's unfolding before our eyes in Gaza.", Varadkar said.

"We see our history in their eyes, a story of displacement, of dispossession, and (in which) national identity questions are denied. Forced emigration, discrimination, and now hunger," he said, invoking his country's bitter memories of its own struggles against British rule.

On Friday, the Irish leader had even more stridently called out the United States' support for Israel.

"I think none of us like to see American weapons being used in the way they are. The way they're being used at the moment is not self-defence," Varadkar said after meeting with Biden in the Oval Office.

In the initial days of the war, the Irish Parliament approved a motion calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of all civilians in Gaza.

The Irish Parliament also allocated an additional funding of €13 million for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

In November, Ireland was among the few EU countries that voted in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

In February, defying Israel's allegations against the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA), Irealan announced 20 million euros ($21.46 million) in support for the UNRWA and urged countries that suspended funding to resume and expand support to the agency.

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