Varadkar: Israel's actions 'indefensible and unacceptable'

He was speaking in the Dáil amid calls for Israel’s ambassador to Ireland to be expelled and sanctions to be applied.
Varadkar: Israel's actions 'indefensible and unacceptable'

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City today. The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: "We will be using our position on the UN Security Council and in the EU to advocate for further action and joint action." Photo: AP/Hatem Moussa

The actions of the Israeli Government in recent days are indefensible and simply unacceptable, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

Annexation, expulsion, plantation and the killing of civilians, deliberately or in terms of collateral damage, is not the behaviour of a democratic state in the 21st century and it is simply unacceptable that such a state or any state should behave in this way, he said.

He was speaking in the Dáil amid calls for Israel’s ambassador to Ireland to be expelled and sanctions to be applied.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry led the charge for the ambassador to be expelled.

“The Irish State has sent observers to the scenes of the mass evictions in east Jerusalem. Do these actions go far enough? They do not. Is it enough to merely call in the ambassador? The ambassador is the representative of a state that is pursuing a policy of systemic racism. The ambassador should be expelled and I put it to the Tánaiste that this should also be Government policy,” he said.

He also called for the approval of the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill proposed to ban the importation of Israeli goods from the occupied territories. 

“Yet the Government has refused to include it in the programme for government. I put it to the Tánaiste that the Government should reverse that position and implement that Bill,” he demanded.

He also said there is an arms trade between Ireland and Israel. Since 2005 some €15m worth of military imports have been made to this State from Israel. Since 2011, Ireland has exported €6.5m worth of military or dual-use hardware to Israel, he said.

Richard Boyd Barrett said he was at the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and claimed the Israeli ambassador came in and gave a brazen and really outrageous defence of the ethnic cleansing that Israel is engaging in against the people of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem.

“Given the outrageous breaches of international law, is it not time to expel the Israeli ambassador and to impose sanctions on the rogue state of Israel for its crimes against international law and against humanity in Palestine?” he said.

In response, Mr Varadkar said: “We have had a very strong statement from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Coveney. We will be using our position on the UN Security Council and in the EU to advocate for further action and joint action, but that is something we have to do around the table first.”

On the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill, the view of the Government based on the Attorney General’s advice is that it is unconstitutional because it is a trade competence, which is an EU matter.

It is not a matter on which we can legislate for individually, Mr Varadkar said.

Also speaking in the Dáil, Labour Leader Alan Kelly raised the tragic case of a Tipperary woman who died from Covid-19 last December, but whose partner is not entitled to a widow's pension because they were not married.

The woman's partner is also not eligible to receive a lone parent allowance, Mr Kelly said.

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