Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Foreign Policy

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independents 4 Change)
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15. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will notify the Israeli government of Ireland’s objection and opposition to the forcible transfer and major dispossession of Palestinian property in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem (details supplied). [56446/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I am concerned by the situation in and around East Jerusalem where tensions remain high.

Palestinian residents in the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan have faced a longstanding threat of eviction. Settlement expansion in sensitive areas such as E1 around Jerusalem undermine the viability of a two-State solution.

During my recent visit to the region, I saw at first-hand the impact on Palestinian communities. In my meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, I conveyed in clear terms my concerns about the situation in East Jerusalem. I raised the recent announcement of plans for over 3,000 new housing units and called on the Israeli authorities to cease all settlement activity, which is illegal under international law as set out in UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

Ireland’s Representative Office in Ramallah regularly visit Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, along with other diplomatic representatives and continue to monitor the situation closely, including attending legal proceedings on eviction cases. Ireland also funds a number of civil society partners that are active on human rights issues, which impact specifically on Palestinians in East Jerusalem, including in relation to evictions.

The Government's support for the Dáil motion earlier this year, declaring that Israel’s settlement policy in occupied Palestinian territory amounts to unlawful de facto annexation, reflected our grave concern about the scale and character of settlements and their negative impact.

I have raised these issues with my EU counterparts at the Foreign Affairs Council and at the Security Council. Following recent settlement announcements, Ireland supported a request for the matter to be discussed at the Security Council on 8 November. The UN Deputy Special Coordinator in Jerusalem, Lynn Hastings, briefed the Council. Ireland underlined our concerns at the impact of this development on the viability of a future Palestinian State. Together with EU members of the Council as well as Norway and incoming member, Albania, Ireland made a joint press statement after the Council meeting highlighting the illegality of such settlements and calling for an end to them.

Photo of Pauline TullyPauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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16. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will call in the Israeli Ambassador to raise with them the detention of six Palestinian men who are currently on hunger strike under administrative detention which allows these men to be held indefinitely without charge, without trial and without evidence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56503/21]

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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23. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the European Union is proposing action against Israel on the issue of Palestinian hunger strikers and demanding an end to their administrative detention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56568/21]

Photo of Gino KennyGino Kenny (Dublin Mid West, People Before Profit Alliance)
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24. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had engagement with his counterparts in the European Union on the situation of Palestinian hunger strikers that are demanding an end to their administrative detention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56567/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 16, 23 and 24 together.

I am aware of the Palestinian prisoners currently engaging in a hunger strike to protest their arrest under the Israeli policy of administrative detention, including the concerns raised by the International Committee of the Red Cross regarding the health of a number of these prisoners. I welcome the news that one of the individuals concerned has recently reached an agreement with the Israeli authorities to end his strike.

I share the concerns raised by EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore on 16 November regarding the deteriorating health conditions of the detainees .

Irish officials are monitoring this matter, in cooperation with partners on the ground. Ireland supports the statement by the EU Delegation in Jerusalem on 5 November, calling on Israel to respect international law and avoid loss of life in this case, and reiterating the right of all detainees to a fair trial.

I support the call made on October by UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to end completely the practice of administrative detention.

Ireland, and the EU, have repeatedly raised the treatment of Palestinian prisoners with the Israeli authorities. At the Human Rights Council, Ireland has called on the Israeli authorities, in accordance with their obligations under Article 9 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to refrain from conducting arbitrary arrests and to follow the acceptable procedure established by law regarding arrest and detention.

Both Ireland and the EU also provide financial support to NGOs in Israel and in oPt who are active in bringing issues regarding the treatment of detainees to light.

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