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Time for an EU wide ban on goods from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories- Sinn Féin

22 May, 2012 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Speaking today during questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pádraig MacLochlainn, asked the Tánaiste if he was resolutely in favour of the EU introducing a ban on settlement goods while Israel continued with building of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

"I strongly welcome the European Council conclusions adopted on Monday 14th May on the Middle East which firmly outlined the critical issues regarding ongoing illegal settlement building in the West Bank and Jerusalem, specifically the sections of land referred to as Area C. The conclusions classify Israel's actions in Area C as "forced transfer of population" in other words, an ethnic cleansing of Palestinian populations. I welcome the Tánaiste's commitment during the recent European Council meeting to tackling this pivotal area of concern. At the same time the Council demanded an immediate resumption of peace negotiations.

There are now only around 150,000 Palestinians in Area C (which is about 62% of the land area of the West Bank) – and about 300,000 Jewish settlers illegally transferred from Israel, despite calls from the international community to cease this illegal activity".

"The Jordan Valley, which makes up about half of Area C, has seen its indigenous population fall from 320,000 pre 1967 to approximately 56,000 today. Palestinians are being forced out of Area C because it is virtually impossible for a Palestinian to get a building permit and building without a permit risks demolition by the Israeli military.

342 Palestinian-owned structures, including 125 residential structures, were demolished by the Israeli authorities in the first half of 2011. 656 people, including 351 children, lost their homes in the first half of 2011. Over 3,000 demolition orders are outstanding, including 18 targeting schools.

I am happy a spotlight is finally being shone on this catastrophic injustice and would ask the Tánaiste to now capitalise on this momentum which has been created".

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