Ireland is set to become the first country in the EU to recognise the Israeli settlement within Palestinian territory as annexation
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”.
Foreign minister Simon Coveney supports parliamentary motion and says treatment of Palestinians is ‘manifestly unequal’.
A Palestinian woman protests in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Irish government has called Israeli settlements ‘de facto annexation’.
The Irish government has supported a parliamentary motion condemning the “de facto annexation” of Palestinian territory by the Israeli authorities in what it said was the first use of the phrase by any European Union government in relation to Israel’s settlement programme.
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, had supported the motion on Tuesday, and condemned what he has described as Israel’s “manifestly unequal” treatment of the Palestinian people.
This comes after President Joe Biden wanted a “path to ceasefire” between Israel and Gaza, the White House has said. The US has long been a staunch ally of Israel and has so far opposed the joint UN Security Council statement on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
But he has also insisted on adding a condemnation of the recent rocket attacks on Israel by the Palestinian militant group known as Hamas before he agreed to the government support for the motion, which had been tabled by the opposition party, Sinn Fein .
“The scale, pace and strategic nature of Israel’s actions on settlement expansion and the intent behind it have brought us to a point where we need to be honest about what is actually happening on the ground. … It is de facto annexation,” Coveney told parliament.
“This is not something that I, or in my view this house, says lightly. We are the first EU state to do so. But it reflects the huge concern we have about the intent of the actions and of course, their impact,” he said.
Sinn Féin foreign affairs spokesman, John Brady, said: “We are baldly stating that Israel is acting illegally under international law”.
“Ireland has the potential to be a pathfinder for a principled and morally robust approach within the European Union and the UN security council.”
Most countries currently view settlements Israel has built in territory that was captured in the 1967 Middle East war as being an illegal seizing of land and as an obstacle between peace with the Palestinians. Both the United States and Israel, however, dispute this.
This comes after Boris Johnson says he is urging Israel and Palestine to “step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint” following growing violence. After Hamas fired around 130 rockets at targets in Israel after another day of intensifying conflict which saw the destruction of a tower block in Gaza in an Israeli air strike.
Israel cites both historical and biblical links to the West Bank territory and around 450,000 of the settlers that live there, among the roughly 3 million Palestinian residents. It also denies any systematic violation of the human rights of those Palestinians.
The motion has come just days following a ceasefire had ended 11 days of the worst fighting between the Palestinian militants and Israeli forces in years. The violence has sparked large pro-Palestinian protests in Dublin.
Sinn Fein has refused to support the government motion condemning the Hamas attacks.
“The acts of terror by Hamas and other militant groups in firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel … cannot and should not ever be justified,” Coveney said.