Ireland to become the first EU state to label Israeli settlement programme 'annexation'

In hard-hitting Dáil speech, foreign minister Simon Coveney says we cannot return to 'illegal settlements' and 'forced evisions' 
Ireland to become the first EU state to label Israeli settlement programme 'annexation'

Ireland is set to become the first EU country to recognise the Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory as annexation when the Dáil votes on a motion tomorrow. Picture: AP Photo/John Minchillo

Ireland is set to become the first EU country to recognise the Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory as annexation when the Dáil votes on a motion tomorrow.

In a significant move, foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney has said the scale, pace and nature of Israel's actions amount to "de facto annexation".

'Business as usual' no longer an option

He told the Dáil that a return to "business as usual" and the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory cannot be accepted.

"That is simply no longer an option in my view," Mr Coveney told the Dáil: 

We cannot return to the flouting of international law, with the expansion of illegal settlements into occupied Palestinian territory. We cannot return to forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.

"It is de facto annexation. 

"This is not something we say lightly. We are the first EU member state to do so. But it reflects the huge concern that we have about the intent of the actions and their impact."

Cross-party motion 'blocked by SF'

Speaking during a debate on a motion brought forward by Sinn Féin, Mr Coveney said the Government had worked with the opposition to come up with a cross-party motion on the matter. However, he said he was "deeply troubled" that this had been blocked by Sinn Féin who, he said, "cannot bring itself to denounce the actions of Hamas".

A Government amendment to include a condemnation of the actions of Hamas passed the Dáil tonight, paving the way for a passing of the main motion recognising annexation tomorrow afternoon.

During the debate, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald accused Israel of being a "serial violator" of international law and human rights.

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