Irish bishops rap Israeli treatment of Palestinians

Citing evidence of “systematic abuse of human rights on a large scale” against the Palestinian people, a commission of the Irish Catholic bishops’ conference is asking that country’s leaders to re-evaluate relations with the government of Israel.

The Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA), an agency of the episcopal conference chaired by Bishop Raymond Field, issued a “position paper” on Israeli-Palestinian relations at a news conference on February 27. ICJSA leaders said that they would meet with the country’s foreign minister, Dermot Ahern, later in the day to discuss their concerns.

In light of the treatment of Palestinians, ICJSA argued, “there are questions that must be asked concerning the appropriateness of maintaining close business, cultural and commercial links with Israel.”

The ICJSA paper cited severe restrictions on freedom of movement in the Palestinian towns on the West Bank, and noted that these restrictions cause problems for those who seek work, attend schools, or need medical treatment. The report also complained about the “humiliating treatment” of Palestinians at Israeli military checkpoints, the curbs on travel to religious shrines, and the high “security wall” that divides communities–f or example, separating Bethlehem from East Jerusalem.

Human-rights problems are evident in Gaza, too, the ICJSA report continued, saying that the territory today “is little more than a large prison.”

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