International pressure must be brought to bear on Israel
Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh today called upon the Irish Government to propose the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which allows for preferential trade between the European Union and Israel.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh also argued that under present circumstances there should be no extension of an "everything but institutions" deal to Israel under the European Neighbourhood Policy, which would grant Israel free trade, the freedom to move and work across the EU, and all the benefits of EU membership except voting rights and representation in the EU Parliament and on the Commission because this would "send the wrong signal to a persistent violator of human rights and international law."
Speaking today regarding a Sinn Féin motion to the European Affairs Committee, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"There comes a time to speak out against injustice, to stand up and be counted. When it came time to speak out strongly against Apartheid South Africa, to depart from the international comfort zone and call for sanctions against an egregious and persistent human rights violator that consistently ignored the will of the international community, Ireland stood up. Such a time has now come to support a similar call in relation to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Ireland should lead the way.
"Sinn Féin is therefore calling on the Irish Government to propose the suspension of the preferential trade agreement between the European Union and Israel, which provides Israel with favourable conditions when trading with EU member states including Ireland. Under present conditions, we are also opposed to any deal that will allow Israel to act as a quasi member of the European Union.
"The mechanism to exert peaceful diplomatic leverage is available and we must use it to send a consistent message to Israel. Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement states that the provisions on preferential trade are predicated on respect for human rights. Article 79 provides for the EU to take appropriate measures where Israel fails to fulfil an obligation under the Agreement.
"The Sinn Fein motion supports the suspension of preferrential trade until such time as there has been a significant and measurable improvement in compliance with international human rights standards by Israel and specifically until there is compliance with the International Court of Justice ruling and UN General Assembly resolution on the separation wall.
"The European Parliament passed a similar motion two years ago. Earlier this year the British House of Commons International Development Committee also recommended the suspension of the Agreement. In addition, 275 members of national parliaments across the European Union (including 52 Irish representatives and all the TDs from my own party) have signed a petition calling for this, particularly in view of the Israeli Government's refusal to cease construction of the Apartheid Wall. So if Ireland was to take such a proposal to the EU we would be leading, but not going it alone.
"What good are these human rights articles in the Agreement if they are not enforced? And if not enforce them against Israel, then who, Amnesty International has ranked Israel among the world's worst human rights offenders. Israel is in breach of a number of Articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the responsibilities of an occupying power. Israel is engaged in horrific crimes against humanity. Israel stands in violation of more UN resolutions than any other nation. It does not deserve to be rewarded with preferential trade. Let preferential trade be suspended under Articles 2 and 79 and only restored after the Israeli state has complied with the repeated requests by the EU and the international community since September 2000." ENDS