Tuesday, 16 January 2018
European Council: Statements
The Taoiseach should also stay and listen to Deputy Mattie McGrath's group. He should stay to listen to what all Members have to say in these debates in which he leads off.
Obviously, the question of Jerusalem was on the agenda of the European Council meeting. The European Union is not like the US or Donald Trump in enthusiastically endorsing and cheering on Israeli oppression with, for example, the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. The EU can try to bask in an inverted reflected glory of not being Donald Trump and look as if it is somehow friends of the Palestinian people. However, the reality is different. While the EU has a different approach in how it puts the case forward and sheds crocodile tears for Palestinians, the same complicity exists between the EU and Israel. The relationship between the EU and Israel has actually deepened over the past several months.
A graphic demonstration of why this is absolutely abhorrent, morally wrong and outrageous as a foreign policy is the treatment of the 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi over the course of the past several months. She is a Palestinian activist and a recognised human rights defender who was arrested in the early hours of 19 December. She was taken from her home by Israeli soldiers, put into a military jeep and has been held in a military prison, Ofer Prison, since. Her mother was detained on the same day when she went to a detention centre to ask of her daughter's whereabouts.
One day, prior to her arrest, Ahed Tamimi was protesting against occupation soldiers who shot her 15-year-old cousin in the face, putting him in a critical condition. During the raid, soldiers forcibly entered her home, physically assaulted her mother and her siblings and confiscated electronic devices including laptops, cameras and mobile telephones. Her treatment comes after her challenging the presence of the Israeli Defence Forces in her family's courtyard, following the injury of her 15-year-old cousin. The village in which he lives has been the location of regular protest in which she has played a role because it is illustrative of the growing occupation by Israel, forcing people out of their homes. For example, water was redirected to a local Israeli settlement, leading to a lack of water for Palestinian farms. Ahed Tamimi faces 12 charges in a military court, which have grown over time, as a result of her being involved in protests.
The reaction of the right wing is appalling. The education minister stated that she should end her life in prison. Ahed Tamimi is still in prison, as is her mother. She should be released. Their case illustrates the treatment of Palestinian children by the Israeli occupation. Some 8,000 have been arrested, detained or charged with offences in military courts since 2000. Three out of four of those detained by the Israel Defense Forces experience violence and are the subject of conviction rates of 99% in military courts. When I was in Gaza seven years ago, I saw some of the instruments of torture used against these children.
The reality of the relationship between the EU and Israel is demonstrated by a so-called informal meeting at the end of December involving all of the EU ministers for foreign affairs and Benjamin Netanyahu. It is an incredible relationship which would not happen anywhere else and illustrates that, with the EU-Israel association agreement, Israel is incorporated into the Single Market. Israeli companies, including military companies, have been the beneficiaries of over $2 billion in the past 20 years in the context of research funding. That is public funding, some of which ends up with those arms industries. That relationship has to end. Ahed Tamimi and her family must be released immediately.