Israelis praise minister's bid to stop attacks

The Israeli government paid tribute to Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern today for his attempts to stop attacks on Jewish buildings in Dublin.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom thanked Minister Ahern and the Government for their expressions of concern over recent anti-Semitic slogans daubed on the Irish-Jewish Museum and the Jewish Synagogue in the south of the city.

Mr Ahern, who is on a visit to the Middle East as part of his role as UN envoy, was praised for his visit to the Jewish Museum last week.

Minister Dermot Ahern met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders today to discuss the UN reform programme and bilateral issues.

The minister met with senior members of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah this morning, including President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei and Foreign Minister Al Kidwa.

He then had a working lunch with the Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Jerusalem followed by a meeting with the Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Labour Party Leader Shimon Peres.

The minister discussed Kofi Annan’s UN reform package as part of his role as UN Special Envoy.

This includes reform of the Security Council and the goals of halving poverty in the next 10 years, reducing the threat of war, terrorism and deadly weapons and advancing human dignity.

Minister Ahern said his discussions with both the Israelis and Palestinians were most constructive and useful.

“This was my first visit as Foreign Minister to the region. Apart from hearing at first hand their views on the UN reforms package, the ongoing search for a peaceful resolution in the Middle East was also central to our talks,” he said.

“Both sides are very aware of the work of the Irish Government in bringing conflict to an end in Ireland.”

Mr Ahern is due to report back to the Secretary General in advance of the UN Leaders Summit which takes place in mid September in New York.

The minister visited the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem and laid a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance on Tuesday, while he laid a wreath at the tomb of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat today.

The minister also condemned a terrorist attack in Netanya, Israel, which killed at least three people.

“I have learnt with revulsion of the attack in Netanya. I extend my deepest condolences to the families of those killed and my sympathies to those who were injured,” he said.

“This attack occurs at a time when there is renewed movement and hope of political progress. Against that prospect today’s attack is particularly reprehensible.”

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