Sinn Fein’s Adams on ‘Peace Mission’ to Middle East

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is to travel to Israel on a self-styled "peace mission" on Tuesday at the invitation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyam. Adams' itinerary includes meetings with the Palestinian Legislative Council and its ruling group Hamas -- a move that has angered a White House determined to isolate a group it designates as terrorists. However, it is not yet clear whether Adams will even be allowed through security at Tel Aviv airport.

President Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland is reported to be "livid" about the proposed visit. It may also threaten Sinn Fein's attempts to resume fundraising in the United States, where it was banned from such activities last year after IRA members were shown to be involved in the Robert McCartney murder and the 26.5 million pound sterling Northern Ireland bank robbery. Certainly the Adams trip will embarrass Sinn Fein's Irish-American, but staunchly pro-Israel, allies on Capitol Hill.

While the Middle East mission is a big political risk in the United States for Adams and Sinn Fein, the burning question is: Just where do the much-vaunted parallels between the Irish issue and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict truly lie? Though Adams clearly perceives many similarities, the ultimate goals of Irish Republicanism and Hamas would appear to be quite different.

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