Ireland condemns Israel’s ‘de facto annexation’ of Palestine

After the recent bombardment of Gaza, the Irish parliament passes a motion condemning Israel’s ‘de facto annexation’ of Palestinian land.

The Irish parliament has passed a motion condemning the “de facto annexation” of Palestinian land by Israeli authorities.

The motion, tabled by the opposition Sinn Fein party, passed on Wednesday after receiving cross-party support.

This makes it the first European Union country to use the phrase “de facto annexation” in relation to Israel’s actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

After the vote, Sinn Fein’s leader Mary Lou MacDonald said on Twitter that the motion “must mark new assertive, consistent confrontation of Israeli crimes against Palestine”.

Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid, the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland, said the motion was “great support” for Palestinians as she praised Ireland.

“This motion is giving great support to the issue of the de facto annexation that is happening in Palestine,” she told The Times newspaper.

“It’s happening. Ireland is the first EU country to take such a position.”

John Brady, Sinn Fein’s spokesperson for foreign affairs, hailed the motion as “historic” and said he hoped other countries would follow Ireland’s lead.

“This is the starting point,” Brady said in a video posted on Twitter, adding that the focus should shift to holding Israel accountable for its “illegal actions under international law”.

“There now needs to be consequences … on Israel to ensure that they cannot continue to act with perceived impunity for the human rights abuses on the Palestinian people.”

An amendment to the motion that sought to impose sanctions on Israel and expel the Israeli ambassador failed to pass.

‘It is de facto annexation’

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Tuesday that the motion “is a clear signal of the depth of feeling across Ireland”.

“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, of the centre-right Fine Gael party, 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.

Most countries and international law view settlements Israel has built in territory captured in the 1967 war as illegal and as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

‘New confrontation of Israeli crimes’

Coveney, who has represented Ireland on the UN Security Council in debates on Israel in recent weeks, had insisted on adding a condemnation of recent rocket attacks on Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas before he agreed to government support for the motion.

“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.

Sinn Fein, a left-leaning party, refused to support the government amendment condemning Hamas attacks.

‘Landmark’ moment

The motion came days after a ceasefire ended 11 days of the worst fighting between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in years.

The violence sparked large pro-Palestinian protests in Dublin.

At least 254 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children, according to Gaza’s health ministry, while about 2,000 were injured. At least 12 people were killed in Israel.

Some social media users welcomed Ireland’s move.

“Ireland has become the first EU state to recognise Israel’s de facto annexation of Palestine in contravention of international law,” tweeted Ronan Burtenshaw, editor of the UK’s socialist Tribune Magazine. “A landmark on the road to isolating an apartheid state as we did in the 1980s. Next stop: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.”

Howard Beckett, assistant general secretary of the British and Irish trade union Unite, celebrated the motion as a “shining light”.

“Ireland in solidarity, standing against occupation & oppression,” he tweeted,

But Israel’s foreign ministry said it rejected Ireland’s “outrageous and baseless position”.

“This position reflects a blatantly one-sided and simplistic policy,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“The motion that was adopted today in the Irish parliament constitutes a victory for extremist Palestinian factions,” the spokesperson added. “This motion distances Ireland from its ambition to contribute and play a constructive role in the Israeli-Palestinian context.”