Civil society groups welcome Dáil motion against annexation of Palestinian lands

26 May 2021

Palestine

Sadaka, Trócaire, Christian Aid and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have welcomed the passing of a motion in Dáil Éireann yesterday (26th May) declaring that Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank represents the unlawful de facto annexation of Palestinian land. The motion also noted that annexation of territory is a violation of a fundamental principle of international law which prohibits the acquisition of territory by force.

In the wake of the disappointing responses from both the UN Security Council and the EU to the atrocities in recent weeks in East Jerusalem and Gaza, the passing of this motion is a meaningful and decisive statement from Ireland’s parliament demonstrating its commitment to international law. It sends a strong signal to the international community that Ireland is no longer willing to accept the ‘status quo’ and that the root causes of violence and injustice must be tackled.

We have worked tirelessly, over several months, and with the invaluable support of Senator Frances Black, as well as government and opposition parties, to forge a legislative response in Ireland to the injustices faced by the Palestinian people. We have focused on Israel’s grave breaches of international law through its constant settlement-building, evictions and home demolitions.

This motion, which condemns the annexation by Israel of East Jerusalem and its settlement activity there and in the West Bank, is very significant as it calls out Israel’s actions as ‘de facto’ annexation. We would hope and expect other parliaments to follow Ireland’s lead in this condemnation and in calling Israel to account.

It is essential that strong measures are taken against Israel to enable the Palestinian people to fulfil their right to self-determination and freedom. We are also grateful to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, and to the proposer of the original motion, John Brady TD, for their assistance and to those of all parties who spoke in favour, and supported it, in the Dáil this week.

Speaking today on the passing of the motion, Senator Frances Black, said:

“I am so grateful and proud that Ireland is now the first EU state to recognise Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory as ‘de facto’ annexation. I commend the Irish government and opposition parties for coming together to support this very significant motion. My hope is that the international community will adopt the same position as Ireland. I also believe the next step is to fulfil our duties under international law and to enact the Occupied Territories Bill.”

Marie Crawley, Chair of Sadaka, said: “Today marks a hugely significant departure in Irish foreign policy. This has been a powerful, united and ground-breaking move which absolutely represents the views of the Irish people. We are the first EU country to adopt this position. Hopefully, others will follow and we look forward to building on this success until the Palestinian people achieve justice and political self-determination.”

Patricia King, General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said: “Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied Territories face persecution and denial of their human rights by an occupying power in breach of international law. I welcome the passing of the Dáil motion and urge the Government to take all measures within its power to ensure that Israel is held accountable for its illegal annexation of Palestinian lands, halts all settlement activity and ends the mistreatment of those under its brutal occupation.”

Conor O’Neill, Acting Head of Policy and Advocacy, Christian Aid said: “This is an important moment with Ireland showing badly-needed leadership. Annexation is happening in practice every day as Palestinians are removed from their homes to make way for illegal settlements. Formally recognising the ongoing expulsion and dispossession of Palestinian communities is a first step towards tackling this injustice. We hope this can prompt other states in the EU to follow suit and to hold Israel accountable for its breaches of international law.”

Caoimhe de Barra, CEO, Trócaire said: “This motion is historic, as Ireland is the first EU country to call out Israel’s settlement activity for what it is - the annexation of Palestinian land. Given the EU remains divided in its willingness to censure Israel’s human rights violations, unilateral action like this is essential. We urge Ireland now to go further and become the first EU country to ban trade with those settlements by enacting the Occupied Territories Bill.”