Government needs to be more forceful on illegal settlements – Crowe
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, has called on the government to be more forceful and vocal on illegal Israeli settlements, and accused them of becoming more passive on the issue during its EU Presidency.
Crowe was speaking after he received a reply to a Parliamentary Question from the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, asking whether he would introduce formal governmental advice to discourage Irish businesses from purchasing goods from illegal Israeli settlements.
Deputy Crowe said:
“There are on-going discussions at EU level to introduce specific labelling on products coming from illegal Israeli settlement colonials in Palestine.
“I welcome the Tánaiste’s repeated criticisms of Israel’s settlement policy and the illegality of the settlements, and his stated preference is to introduce this EU wide labelling system.
“While welcoming this as a positive step I, like many others, believe he should be actively working to introduce a ban on the importation of these goods.
“I am disappointed to read in his reply to my recent Parliamentary Question, that the government does not believe that importations of settlement produce and economically supporting these illegal settlements are a majorly significant issue.
“Israel’s settlements grossly impede on Palestinians human rights by restricting their access to water resources and agricultural lands, and it diverts them to the colonial settlements, which allows them to create their produce for export.
“Israel’s settlement programme, on illegally occupied land, remains one of the biggest threats to a two-state solution and to a resolution of the conflict in the Middle East.
“Many people in Ireland had hoped that this government would use Ireland's Presidency of the EU to make some significant moves on this issue, but now the Tánaiste is saying that settlement produce are a ‘less significant sub-issue’ in their efforts to try halt the expansion of these settlements.
“The EU and Ireland’s importation of these products ensures that they are complicit in this illegal activity and abuse, and it is definitely not a ‘less significant sub-issue’.
“He also pointed to the comparatively low level of trade between the EU and Israeli settlements. However it doesn’t matter if EU trade benefits these settlements by €10 or €10 million, Ireland and the EU have an obligation to ban the importation of these products made in areas which violate international and human rights law.
“Politically I believe a ban would also have the most effective impact on Israeli policy as it would send a strong message to Israel that it cannot continue to ignore international law. It would also raise greater awareness and consciousness around the issue, in Ireland and Europe.
“The Tánaiste’s response reflects the passive approach of the government on this issue, especially during the EU Presidency.
“Ireland and the EU have repeatedly condemned Israel’s settlement building in the West Bank, but they need to be more active around these human rights violations.
“This government should be challenging Israel’s flouting of international law at all levels and it needs to begin by supporting a ban on importing settlement products into this state and continue to appeal to their EU counterparts to do likewise.”