Written answers

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Middle East

Photo of Violet WynneViolet Wynne (Clare, Sinn Fein)
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124. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the role he envisions Ireland taking to advance the Middle East peace process following the unanimous motion of Dáil Éireann earlier in 2021 that Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem amounts to an unlawful de-facto annexation; if Ireland will maximise its seat on the United Nations Security Council and take a more pro-active approach in supporting a negotiated two-state solution and lasting peace; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47005/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Ireland’s position on the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory is informed by international law, respect for human rights and the goal of a two-state solution through a negotiated peace agreement.

Ireland has been consistently vocal in its opposition to settlement expansion and annexation. The Government's support for the Dáil motion earlier this year reflected our grave concern about the scale and character of settlements and their negative impact. We will continue to proactively raise these issues at EU level, in national and EU statements, at the UN Human Rights Council, the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, and in our bilateral contacts. 

The Middle East Peace Process remains a key priority for Ireland during our term on the Security Council. Ireland engages actively in monthly meetings on the situation in the Middle East. I addressed meetings of the Council on this issue in January and May this year. As part of Ireland’s Presidency of the Council this month, I chaired a dialogue between the Security Council and the League of Arab States on 22 September, during which I underlined the need for strong regional engagement on the MEPP and a reinvigoration of the political track, which is vital to advance peace. I had further discussions on the MEPP in my bilateral meetings with Foreign Ministers last week at the UN.

This week, Ireland is chairing the Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question. This meeting will focus on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which includes the issue of illegal settlements, violence against civilians and de-escalation and reversal of negative trends on the ground.

I have been clear in my engagement with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority of the commitment of this Government to advancing a two-State solution for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ireland remains firmly committed to a negotiated two-state solution based on international law, relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and agreed parameters.

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Dublin Bay South, Labour)
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125. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to a recent testimony (details supplied) regarding incidents that have had a severe impact on access to education for over half a million children across the Occupied Palestinian Territory; if his attention has been drawn to reports that three out of four attacks were perpetrated by Israeli forces over a 30-month period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47046/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I remain gravely concerned by the ongoing human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and particularly the impact on children and their access to education, which has been highlighted in the report from the Norwegian Refugee Council of November 2020, and referred to by the Deputy.

Ireland raises the issue of settler violence and intimidation in our interactions with the Israeli authorities and has highlighted the issue at the UN Security Council. In my address to the Council on 16 May, I expressed Ireland’s deep concern at the plight of children in the occupied Palestinian territory. I stressed that all violations against children must end, including and in particular attacks on schools. In the Council's meeting on 30 August, Ireland called for an end to attacks against civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory and for those responsible to be held to account. Ireland has repeatedly emphasised that the rights of children to protection, safety, and well-being must be upheld at all times.

I fully endorse the statement of 9 September 2021 by European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, on the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, which underlined that attacks on education constitute violations of International Humanitarian Law.

Ireland is a strong supporter of education for Palestinian youth, which is crucial for the long-term viability of a Palestinian state. Ireland is a longstanding supporter of UNRWA’s delivery of services, including quality education, to 5.7 million registered Palestine refugees.

This year, Ireland has contributed €7 million to UNRWA, including €1 million in additional emergency support in response to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip in May. Ireland also provided €500,000 to UNICEF for the provision of essential supplies and services to thousands of children in acute need in the West Bank and in Gaza and €300,000 to the oPt Humanitarian Fund, which can be drawn upon to respond to humanitarian emergencies and has been utilised for the education sector.

Ireland also supports the Palestinian Ministry of Education in providing equitable access to quality education for children. 

Irish officials will continue to engage actively on the ground and by supporting Israeli and Palestinian civil society partners who play a critical role on this issue.

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