Monday, April 27, 2009

Kenny and Shatter in Israel

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and his party colleague Alan Shatter TD have just returned from a three day tour of Israel and Palestine. For my non Irish readers let me explain. Enda Kenny is the leader of Ireland's largest opposition party and Alan Shatter is Ireland's only Jewish member of parliament and the countries most vocal supporter of Israel. The two men, accompanied by Billy Timmins TD, Fine Gael spokesperson on defence visited Gaza, Sderot and Ramallah as well as Jerusalem where Enda Kenny held talks with Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon. In Ramallah Kenny met with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

Fine Gael is Ireland's most pro Israeli party. This is not simply because of deputy Shatter's efforts to combat anti Israeli sentiment throughout the nation. Fine Gael are a member of the EEP, the conservative block in the European parliament that regularly defend Israel. Not that any of this makes much of a difference in any practical sense as I do not believe that either Fine Gael or Enda kenny have any ambition to do anything other than play it safe when it comes to the Israel Palestine debate. The only issue of note that appears to have come from the Fine Gael tour of the holy land was Kenny's genuine shock at the devastation in Gaza and his pledge to raise the issue of the ongoing suffering in Gaza at the EU level. Interesting, but hardly an uncharacteristic bombshell from the Mayo man.

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