Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
335. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the building of 1,600 plus homes for Israeli settlers in the illegal settlement of Katzrin in the occupied Syrian Golan; and the dialogue he has had with his Israeli counterpart and at EU level regarding the disregard of international law that these settlements encompass. [36083/16]
I have repeatedly made clear my view that the relentless expansion of illegal Israeli settlements is a major impediment to the achievement of peace in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The settlement process is not only illegal, but routinely involves dispossession and seizure of land, eviction of those already living there, and imposition of restrictions on the surrounding population. It is thus a major cause of tensions and provocations on the ground. As I have stated before, these actions are incompatible with a genuine commitment to reach a peace agreement, and call into serious question the intentions of the Israeli Government.
We regularly convey these concerns to the Israeli authorities, and I have raised them myself with Israeli Ministers on my visits to the region, most recently in June. Ireland also works worked to focus EU and international attention on them, and the issue of settlements is a central focus of our engagement on the Middle East conflict.
Our concerns over these policies are most acute in relation to the West Bank, where they are making impossible the achievement of a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state. By contrast, it is generally acknowledged that any comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab states will involve the return of the Golan area to Syria.