Ireland first EU state to declare Israeli settlements 'annexation'

Ireland first EU state to declare Israeli settlements 'annexation'

Palestinian demonstrators duck for cover from teargas fired by Israeli forces during clashes near the Jewish settlement of Beit El near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Picture: Getty

Ireland has become the first EU country to declare that Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory amounts to illegal de facto annexation, after a Dáil motion received cross-party support.

The motion also condemns the displacement of the protected Palestinian population and states that the expansion of Israeli settlements over decades represents a flagrant violation of international law.

Sinn Féin's foreign affairs spokesperson John Brady, who tabled the motion, described the vote as "an historic moment" and "a victory for justice" which recognises the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

He said the passing of the motion on annexation is a true reflection of the strength of feeling in this country at the treatment of the Palestinian people by the apartheid state of Israel.

'Crime of annexation'

"Ireland now stands as the first country in Europe to categorically state without equivocation that Israel has carried out the crime of annexation in the occupied Palestinian Territories," he said after the vote.

A solidarity-PBP amendment to the motion, which sought to expel the Israeli ambassador from Ireland, did not pass.

Sadaka, Trócaire, Christian Aid Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have welcomed the passing of a motion in Dáil Éireann, also declaring that Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank represents the unlawful de facto annexation of Palestinian land.

The organisations said they "hope and expect" other parliaments will now follow Ireland’s lead in this condemnation and in calling Israel to account.

During a debate ahead of the vote, the Government tabled an amendment to include a condemnation of the actions of Hamas as well as those on the Israeli side, which was adopted.

In a significant move, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the scale, pace and nature of Israel's actions amount to "de facto annexation".

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. 

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," said Mr Coveney.

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