Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Alice-Mary HigginsAlice-Mary Higgins (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I move an amendment to the Order of Business that No. 9 be taken before No. 1. Today we are seeking leave to introduce the Air Navigation and Transport (Arms Embargo) Bill 2024, which is emergency legislation that would ensure Ireland is not complicit in arming Israel and would help to curb the flow of weapons being used in Gaza. Since Israel began its relentless bombardment of Gaza, arms exports to Israel have dramatically increased. In November, the United States organised a €14.5 billion military aid package for Israel and has since approved a further €14 billion military aid package, just this month. In 2023, arms exports from Germany to Israel increase tenfold on the previous year, with €32 million worth of arms in 2022 and €303 million worth of arms in 2023 exported from Germany to Israel. These are both countries that have consistently blocked or opposed calls for an immediate ceasefire.

The calls for the halt to the supply of arms have come from the highest level. Some 30 UN independent human rights experts have called for an immediate stop to arms exports and warned that any weapons or ammunition transferred for use in Gaza are likely to be used to violate international law. Calls have come from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and this month a Dutch court ordered that the Netherlands halt the export of F35 fighter jet parts to Israel. The court found there was a clear risk that parts would be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Currently exemptions can be granted for flights that may carry arms through the State. Our Bill provides that no exemptions would be given for arms going to Israel or coming from or going to countries that are exporting weapons to Israel. It also provides for a regime of mandatory inspections. More that 1,000 exemptions for the transfer of weapons were granted in 2023 alone. Since at least 2020, no inspections have taken place, so in many cases we do not know the end use or the detail of the kind of weapons that are being transferred.

I urge colleagues to support this emergency legislation, which would ensure Ireland is in line with international law and not complicit in potential breaches of international and humanitarian law and indeed of common decency. I hope this legislation will help to curb the flow of arms to Israel. Senator Ruane will second its introduction shortly.


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