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

Ma'ale Adumim, the lagest Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, is shown in the foreground (AFP)

Rory Sullivan

The Independent  /  May 26, 2021

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

Ireland has become the first country in the EU to criticize Israel for its “de facto annexation” of Palestinian 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 criticizing 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”.

On May 27, Jerusalem correspondent Bel Trew wrote:

The Irish parliament on Thursday declared the building of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as a de facto annexation, making Ireland has become the first EU member state to do so.

Israel’s foreign ministry said it “outright rejects” the action, calling it an “outrageous and baseless” motion that “constitutes a victory for extremist Palestinian factions”.

A Dail motion, tabled by Sinn Fein, was passed on Wednesday night after it received cross-party support.

In a statement, Lior Haiat, the spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “Israel outright rejects Ireland’s outrageous and baseless position regarding Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

“This position reflects a blatantly one-sided and simplistic policy and follows the unacceptable anti-Israel statements that were heard in Ireland at a time when the citizens of Israel were being subject to terror attacks by the more than 4,000 rockets that were launched from the Gaza Strip by the Hamas terrorist organization.

“The motion that was adopted today in the Irish parliament constitutes a victory for extremist Palestinian factions.

“This motion distances Ireland from its ambition to contribute and play a constructive role in the Israeli-Palestinian context.”