Ireland condemns Israel’s ‘manifestly unequal’ treatment of Palestinians

Irish government becomes first in EU to condemn ‘de facto annexation’ of Palestinian land

Rory Sullivan
Wednesday 26 May 2021 14:55
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Maale Adumim, Israel’s largest settlement in the occupied West Bank, is shown in the foreground on 1 July 1, 2020.
Maale Adumim, Israel’s largest settlement in the occupied West Bank, is shown in the foreground on 1 July 1, 2020.

Ireland has become the first country in the EU to criticise Israel for its “de facto annexation” of Palestian land, according to foreign minister Simon Coveney.

This comes after 248 Palestinians - many of them children - and 12 Israelis were killed during 11 days of fighting earlier this month between Israel and Hamas.

Tensions were first sparked by the potential evictions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in east Jerusalem.

A parliamentary motion criticising annexation by Israel was brought by Sinn Fein and was supported by both the left and the right in the Dail on Tuesday evening.

The government only agreed to back it after an amendment was made condemning Hamas’ rocket attacks into Israel during the recent hostilities.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Mr Coveney said that Israel could not “return to the flouting of international law” through settlement expansion.

Despite being illegal under international law, Israel continues to expand its settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. More than 450,000 settlers now live there, with their communities serviced by roads which West Bank Palestinians are forbidden from using.

Speaking about the situation in the occupied territories, Ireland’s foreign minister condemned Israel’s “manifestly unequal” treatment of Palestinians.

He added: “The scale, pace and strategic nature of Israel’s actions on settlement expansion and the intent behind it have brought us to a point where we need to be honest about what is actually happening on the ground...It is de facto annexation.

“This is not something that I, or in my view this house, says lightly. We are the first EU state to do so. But it reflects the huge concern we have about the intent of the actions and of course, their impact.”

The Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald used stronger language in the debate, accusing Israel of being a “serial violator” of international law and human rights.

Her words come a month after Boris Johnson claimed an investigation by the International Criminal Court into alleged war crimes in the Israeli-occupied territories was “a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s”.

The US, which gives billions of dollars of military aid to Israel each year, similarly denounced the inquiry, saying the White House “firmly opposes and is deeply disappointed by this decision”.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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