Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, visited projects supported by his country in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Coveney arrived in the occupied Palestinian territory through the Israeli-controlled Beit Hanoun (Erez) checkpoint.
During his visit, which lasted several hours, the minister met officials from international organisations active in the besieged enclave. Later, he met with the Palestinian Minister of Public Works and Housing, Mufid Al-Hasayneh.
According to a statement from Al-Hasayneh's ministry, the officials discussed the reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip and means of cooperation and coordination between Ireland and the Palestinian Authority. Mr Al-Hasayneh praised European efforts in support of many development projects in Palestine.
On Wednesday, the Irish minister met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his Foreign Minister in Ramallah. During the meeting, Coveney stressed Ireland's desire to implement a number of projects in the Palestinian territories, especially in the Gaza Strip, including projects to generate electricity using solar energy. He expressed his hope to exploit unused lands for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
Mr Coveney also stressed the importance of strengthening scientific cooperation programmes. These, he suggested, could include twinning Palestinian universities with their Irish counterparts, organising international scientific camps for Palestinian students and joint research and academic programmes.