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A Palestine solidarity protest outside Leinster House on 29 May Alamy Stock Photo

Vast majority of Irish people think the EU should impose sanctions on Israel

Around a third of voters have boycotted companies associated with Israel in recent months, according to a new opinion poll.

THE VAST MAJORITY of Irish people think the European Union should impose economic trade sanctions on Israel due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Over three-quarters of people (76%) support such a move, according to the latest opinion poll carried out by The Journal and Ireland Thinks.

Some 15% of people disagree with the EU imposing sanctions on Israel, while 9% don’t know. More women than men support sanctions being imposed – 81% versus 71%.

Eight in 10 (81%) younger voters (aged 18 to 34) are in favour of the move, as are at least seven in 10 people across all other age groups.

Students at a number of Irish universities recently protested their colleges’ links to Israeli companies, with Trinity among those agreeing to divest from certain businesses after a high-profile encampment resulted in the campus temporarily being closed to the public in early May.  

The majority of voters across the political spectrum support sanctions, but voters of the Green Party (a whopping 97%), Solidarity-People Before Profit (95%), the Social Democrats (90%) and Sinn Féin (88%) are most likely to back such a move.

Ireland last month formally recognised the State of Palestine, alongside Spain and Norway.

Taoiseach Simon Harris then urged other EU countries to use “every lever at their disposal” to bring the conflict in Gaza to a halt, saying Europe could be doing “a hell of a lot more”.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin recently told reporters that sanctions against Israel had been discussed at EU level for the first time.

However – as every member state would need to back any sanctions – they are extremely unlikely to be implemented. One or all of Israel’s closest allies in the EU, such as Germany, Austria, Czechia and Hungary, are almost certain to veto any sanctions. 

Maynooth University’s John O’Brennan this week told The Journal: “While we in the European Union operate with a system where even one country can block the EU taking a significant measure, then it’s not going to happen.”

Boycotting companies

Almost a third of people polled (31%) said they have boycotted companies associated with Israel at some point since 7 October. Some 58% have not boycotted any companies and 11% were unsure.

More younger voters have boycotted companies in recent months – almost half of 18 to 34-year-olds (47%) versus 14% of over 65s.

The supporters of the following political parties were most likely to have boycotted certain businesses: Solidarity-PBP (91%), Social Democrats (62%) and Sinn Féin (48%).

Some 1,770 people took part in the poll from 30 to 31 May; the margin of error is plus or minus 2.4%.

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) is among those supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – an international campaign that was launched in 2005 but has gained renewed traction in recent months.

The BDS movement encourages people to boycott companies and institutions linked to Israel; urges banks, councils, churches, pension funds and universities to withdraw investments from Israel; and calls for governments to sanction Israel and suspend its membership in international forums such as United Nations bodies.

Ceasefire talks amid famine concerns

Israel’s military continued to pound central Gaza with heavy airstrikes yesterday as US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators engaged in talks on a truce and hostage release deal.

The ongoing conflict, the bloodiest ever Gaza war, was sparked by Hamas’s 7 October attack on southern Israel which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel’s bombardment and ground offensive have killed at least 36,550 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Some 1.9 million people (around 85% of Gaza’s population) have been displaced, according to the UN. 

Israel has faced growing diplomatic isolation, cases against it before two international courts, and several European governments including Ireland recognising a Palestinian state.

An independent group of experts yesterday warned that famine is possibly already underway in northern Gaza but that the conflict and restrictions on humanitarian access have impeded the data collection to prove it.

The group known as the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews Net) said famine in Gaza “is possible, if not likely”.

An area is considered to be in famine when three things occur

  • 20% of households have an extreme lack of food, or are essentially starving
  • at least 30% of the children suffer from acute malnutrition or wasting, meaning they are too thin for their height
  • two adults or four children per every 10,000 people are dying daily of hunger and its complications

Contains reporting from © AFP 2024 and Press Association 

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