Statement by President of Congress on annexation plans by Israel

6 Jul 2020

Palestine flag

A statement by the President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Gerry Murphy

International condemnation has mounted ahead of the Israeli government’s plan to annex substantial parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley in its first steps toward implementing parts of a US-proposed Middle East peace plan.

US President Donald Trump's proposals, rejected outright by the Palestinians, pave the way for annexing key parts of the West Bank, including settlements long considered illegal by the majority of the international community.

The annexation will have tremendous social and economic implications on Palestinian communities and workers. The plan would disconnect around 200,000 Palestinians from their socio-economic environment. 23 percent of the area to be annexed is privately owned Palestinian land, where the majority of the Palestinian agricultural sector is located, and Palestinian workers gain their livelihoods. Vital water resources and fertile agricultural lands in the same areas would be permanently subject to the Israeli Land settlement law of 2017 which enables the Israeli government to control the properties of ‘’absentees’’ in Area C, and of properties it claims to be ‘’public property”.

Moreover, the plan would further advance the implementation of the "Greater Jerusalem" law that enacted the annexation of three major settlement blocs that cover a land area of 175 square kilometers in the occupied Jerusalem district. This would destroy the prospect of any future negotiated agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian capital in the city. The annexation would break the territorial contiguity between East Jerusalem and the West Bank that is essential for the fabric of life of Palestinians and their ability to conduct sustainable independent lives in the future.

The existing two-tier system of law in the same territory will become embedded, with devasting impacts on the lives of Palestinians who have little or no access to legal remedy. Under International humanitarian and human rights law, illegal annexation will not change Israel’s obligations as the occupying power.

The proposed annexation plan is a stark violation of international law and unilaterally de facto nullifies the prospects for genuine negotiations leading to the realisation of a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict and will perpetuate the serious existing human rights and international humanitarian law violations that are witnessed on a daily basis.

Globally parliamentarians, leading UN experts and civil society have called on Israel’s right-wing government to end its plan of annexation stating that it “it would be the crystallization of an already unjust reality: two peoples living in the same space, ruled by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights. This is a vison of a 21st century apartheid”.

We therefore call on the Irish Government to urgently reject this plan, and to exert pressure on the Israeli government to block its further implementation. The exclusion of the Occupied Territories Bill from the programme for government is a missed opportunity for Ireland to show global leadership in this regard. We note however the reference to continuing “to work with other Member States to give leadership within the EU to oppose any annexation or plans to apply Israeli sovereignty over territory in the West Bank, which is part of the occupied Palestinian territory” and that the Government “would regard any such moves as a breach of international law and would consider an appropriate response to them at both national and international level”‘National level' measures to oppose settlements and annexation in our view must include measures like the Occupied Territories Bill. 

The Government should also take a lead within the EU and at the International Level by working for:

  • The suspension of trade and co-operation agreements with Israel, including the EU-Israel Association Agreement, until the Israeli government complies with its clauses on human rights and withdraws its annexation plan;
  • A ban on arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel;
  • The imposition of a ban on trade with the illegal Israeli settlements and complicit companies;
  • The exclusion of Israel from European Research Programs.
  • Support efforts at the United Nations to reconstitute the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and the UN Centre against Apartheid to investigate Israeli apartheid.
  • Renew efforts to see existing UN resolutions implemented

Now is the time for serious accountability measures, not just for the sake of defending Palestinian rights under international law, but crucially to safeguard the very credibility of and respect for international law itself. Once again, we urge the Irish Government to move beyond mere condemnation to actions aimed at ending the culture of impunity enjoyed by Israeli authorities, and to take a lead in the EU and act on our international obligations not to render aid or assistance towards an illegal situation and flagrant breaches of international law.

Information on a discussion about annexation on July 8th available here