Features Editor of the 'Irish Catholic'
Micheál Martin, the Minister for Foreign Affairs
President of Ireland, Mary McAleese
Reception by the Palestinian Ambassador
9:00am: Members of the Council of the Friends of Bethlehem University in Ireland and Paul Keenan (Features Editor- Irish Catholic)
Meeting with Prof. John Kelly, Chair of Friends of Bethlehem University and Paul Keenan, the Features Editor of 'The Irish Catholic', the church leaders spoke of severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli military on travel in the West Bank in Gaza and the difficulties this poses in terms of everyday life. They spoke of the consequent affects on access to holy sites, affecting Christians and Muslims alike. In particular they spoke of the inability of many members of the Christian community to meet Pope Benedict when he recently visited the West Bank because of Israel's refusal to issue travel permits.
12 noon: Micheál Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Failure to grant permits to Palestinian students to study abroad and participate in EU Erasmus programmes was one of the issues raised by the Friends of Bethlehem University in the course of this meeting. This issue was subsequently raised in a meeting between the church leaders and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin. During this meeting, the church delegation also impressed upon the Minister the importance of the international community's intervention to ensure that Israel implements UN resolutions and other aspects of international law.
4:00 pm: Her Excellency Mary McAleese, President of Ireland at Áras an Uachtaráin , accompanied by representatives from Christian Aid and Trócaire
The Palestinian church leaders conveyed a special Christmas greeting from the Holy Land to the President and to the people of Ireland. President Mc Aleese acknowledged the difficulties facing the people of Palestine. Both Mrs Mc Aleese and the Palestinian church leaders shared a mutual understanding that peace is more than an absence of violence – the only lasting peace is a just peace.
6:00 pm Reception hosted by the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Hikmat Ajjuri
Dr. Hikmat Ajjuri, the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland along with other members of the Palestinian Delegation to Ireland hosted an evening reception for the Church Leaders Delegation in the Mount Herbert Hotel, Ballsbridge. The event was attended by numerous members of the diplomatic corps, political and trade union figures as well as NGOs who actively work towards justice for the Palestinian people. The Reception coincided with the United Nations Annual Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Also included in the photo is His Excellency Most Reverend Dr Giuseppe Leanza, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland.