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Childhood in Gaza ‘a death sentence’

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has arrived in the United States to begin the usual week of meetings and events ahead of St Patrick’s Day.

However this year, US support for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza will be on the agenda in the traditional bi-lateral with the US President Joe Biden, later this week.

The US has vetoed three resolutions at the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire.

In a keynote speech delivered to the John F Kennedy Presidential Library last night in Boston, the Taoiseach reiterated calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

“What happened on the 7 October was an act of pure evil and hatred, and it can never be forgotten or excused,” he told the audience.

“Colleagues, when thousands of children are killed in response no one can avert their eyes,” he said.

“The life of a child is the greatest gift of all, childhood should be a blessing,” Mr Varadkar said, adding, “today in Gaza, for so many it is a death sentence and a curse.”

He said that innocent men women and children were suffering for the sins of guilty people who perpetrated “unspeakable acts of terrorism.”

“The cries of the innocent will haunt us forever if we stay silent,” he said.

Mr Varadkar referred to perceptions of double standards on the part of developed nations.

“If we are not consistent, if we do not see and respect the equal value of a child of Israel and a child of Palestine, then the Global South, most of the world in fact, will not listen when we call for them to stand by the rules and institutions that are the bedrock of a civilised world,” he told the audience.

The event was hosted by Joe Kennedy III, the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland and Jack Schlossberg, grandson of JFK.

Paying homage to the Kennedy family, the Taoiseach said that President Kennedy “had not asked us to distinguish between the weak and the oppressed.”

“We must speak up for them all. We must dedicate ourselves to freedom and peace in Gaza as well as in the rest of the world.”

Mr Varadkar said he would be discussing the war in Ukraine with President Biden when they meet this week and would thank him for the “strong and steadfast stand that the United States has taken in opposing Putin’s war of aggression.”

“Some try to ignore the conflict but fail to realise that the conflict will not ignore them,” he said.

“Ukraine is facing an adversary that will not stop there,” the Taoiseach said.

A spending bill, which would see $60 billion go towards boosting Ukraine’s military defences, has been held up in Congress due to objections from republican politicians.

A prominent opponent of US assistance for Ukraine is Robert Kennedy Jr – uncle to Joe Kennedy III and Jack Schlossberg – who is running in this year’s US Presidential Election as an independent.

However the two younger Kennedys remained tight-lipped on their uncle’s prospects.

Joe Kennedy III told reporters his capacity as a federal employee barred him from commenting on campaign issues.

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