Gerry Adams, the head of the Irish Sinn Fein party and a key player in
the 'Good Friday' agreement that secured peace in volatile Northern
Ireland in 2000, arrived in Israel and Palestine this week to try to
talk to Israeli and Palestinian leaders about setting up a negotiated
solution to their conflict. Israeli leaders refused to meet the Irish
leader, however, once they realized that he was planning to meet with
Palestinian government leaders.
Adams had hoped to encourage the Palestinian and Israeli leadership to use strategies that worked in the Northern Ireland peace procees. He said, "It is imperative that genuine negotiation and dialogue between the representatives of the Palestinian and Israeli people commences as quickly as possible. While no two conflicts are identical, there are key conflict-resolution principles which can be applied. These include inclusive dialogue, respect for electoral mandates and respect for human rights and international law."
Adams met Tuesday evening in Jerusalem with members of Palestinian and Israeli peace groups, then travelled to the Palestinian occupied territories to meet with representatives from the Palestinian government.
The Israeli government refused to meet Adams, saying that there is a strict Israeli policy that they will not meet with anyone who meets with the Hamas-led Palestinian government.
In his talks yesterday, Adams sharply criticized the Israeli 'family separation policy' implemented this summer, in which foreign nationals married to Palestinians are unable to enter the country, and Israelis married to Palestinians are unable to live with their spouses.
He plans to meet with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, before departing to Ireland.