A week that started with a brutal massacre of Palestinian protestors and ended with most Irish minds focused on Friday's 8th Amendment Referendum...
Gaza and Jerusalem
In last week's review I focused on the impact that Donald Trump's foreign policy was having on global events. There, the focus was mostly on the Iran deal and his potential meeting with Kim Jong Un. There was quite a lot of speculation on how both those scenarios could develop and the causes behind Trump's erratic foreign policy.
Unfortunately, Monday was a bleak and tragic example of the impact Donald Trump's foreign policy can have. While many in Washington and Israel celebrated the opening of the new American embassy in Jerusalem, sixty Palestinian protestors were killed in Gaza as protests to commemorate seventy years since the Nakba reached their culmination.
The Israeli Defence Force must have been given explicit instructions that the use of lethal force was acceptable (given the number of deaths, maybe even encouraged).
Trump has unequivocally backed Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government in recent months I genuinely believe Israel would not have allowed such a brutal massacre of protestors under any other US regime.
There was almost no chance of the United States publicly criticizing Israel's response or not vetoing any United Nation diplomatic actions against them.
I believe Europe must take the lead in any future peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Ireland could play a crucial given our history of conflict and reconciliation. However before talks can genuinely resume, Israel needs to be shown that it doesn't have carte blanche to act with impunity against Palestine.
The week in Irish politics was dominated by a number of 8th Amendment Referendum debates across television and radio. The most controversial was the Claire Byrne debate on RTE. It was criticised for allowing the audience to cheer and boo and play a major role in the debate.
I watched it and I have to say that some of this criticism seems more linked to the fact that the No side had the better outing with Maria Steen the best performer on the night.
Mary Lou McDonald was good for the Yes but arguments for Yes contain a number of different strands that don't themselves to the formation of a clear, coherent argument.
Two polls released this week do show Yes with a strong lead but I am still convinced it will be a very tight affair as I put forward in my predictions a few weeks ago. In both polls Yes had 56% though I see a lot more potential downside to this figure with minimal potential uplift.
I'll be writing up a full review of the referendum next weekend as results come in. I still expect Yes to get over the line but a No vote wouldn't shock me based on the number of undecided voters in both of the polls.
There was also a potentially seismic political parties poll released the Sunday Times that put Sinn Fein on 24% , ahead of Fianna Fail on 23%. For now I am treating this as an outlier as the other poll released gave Fianna Fail a 9% lead over Sinn Fein. However, if Sinn Fein's performance as the second largest party is repeated in many more polls over the coming months I think Micheal Martin's leadership will come under more direct sustained pressure...