Irish parliament denounces Israeli policy in the West Bank
The Irish parliament passed a motion describing Israeli settlements and other policies in the occupied West Bank as “de facto annexation” – one of the strongest terms ever proposed by a European Union nation on the issue.
The motion passed Wednesday by Dail, the lower house of the Irish parliament, condemned the “recent and ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian territory”. Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the motion expresses Ireland’s concern that Israel’s actions are undermining prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We have to tell the truth,” Coveney tweeted Thursday. “The scale, pace and strategic nature of Israel’s actions on settlements, demolitions and expulsions are de facto annexation. ”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry rejected what it described as Ireland’s “outrageous and baseless” stance on Israeli settlements. He said the parliamentary motion “constitutes a victory for extremist Palestinian factions”.
Irish lawmakers approved the motion less than a week after Israel and the ruling Hamas militant group in Gaza agreed to an informal ceasefire ending an 11-day war that left more than 250 dead – the vast majority of Palestinians.
Israel seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in a 1967 war, territories the Palestinians want for a future state. It withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but consolidated its control over the West Bank, which is now home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers.
Palestinians view the settlements as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace, a position that enjoys broad international support. There have been no substantive peace talks for over a decade, leading Palestinians and many rights groups to describe Israel’s control of the West Bank as de facto annexation.
Israel considers the West Bank to be the historical and biblical heart of the Jewish people. Plans for a formal annexation of a third of the West Bank have enjoyed wide support in Israel, but were put on hold last year after a normalization deal brokered by the United States with the United Arab Emirates.
The Irish motion, presented by the opposition Sinn Fein party, received support from all parties.
“Illegal land grabs, annexation of Palestinian land and houses have been denounced by the Dail (Parliament) in Dublin,” Sinn Fein chief Mary Lou McDonald said on Twitter. “The motion tabled by @sinnfeinireland and supported by all must mark a new assertive and coherent confrontation of Israeli crimes against Palestine.”
In another development, Israel on Thursday summoned the French ambassador to protest against recent remarks by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in which he warned against “apartheid” if progress is not made. made on a two-state solution.
In an interview with French television LCI on Sunday, Le Drian said the recent round of fighting “shows the urgency of finding a political process”.
“The risk of apartheid is strong if we continue to follow a logic of one state, or of the status quo,” he said, adding that the idea of a two-state solution “is starting to fade.” .
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said the remarks were “unacceptable and distorted reality”.
“Israel is a democratic country that upholds the rule of law, and I unequivocally reject any attempt to undermine these facts and the foundations of the State of Israel,” Ashkenazi said.
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and New York-based Human Rights Watch each released reports earlier this year saying Israel practiced apartheid in the occupied territories and within its own. borders by systematically denying Palestinians equal rights. Israel rejected the characterizations and said it treated its Jewish and Arab citizens alike.