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Palestinian children inspect house destroyed by Israeli forces in village of Kafr Thann, west of Jenin in the West Bank. Alamy Stock Photo
west bank settlements

Israel to ‘strengthen’ settlements in West Bank due to countries like Ireland recognising Palestine

Taoiseach Simon Harris said the move was “pitiful” on the behalf of the Israeli Prime Minister.

LAST UPDATE | 17 Jun

THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT has said it will look to “strengthen” settlements in the occupied West Bank after several countries, including Ireland, recognised the state of Palestine.

Ireland, Norway, and Spain last month announced that it would recognise the Palestinian state, a move that was condemned by Israel. For example, Israel foreign minister Israel Katz accused Ireland of “rewarding terrorism” by the move.

Ireland’s Ambassador to Israel Sonya McGuinness was also summoned to the Israeli foreign affairs department and shown a video of the 7 October attacks by Hamas as a “reprimand” for Ireland’s recognition of Palestine.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said Israel’s actions were “no way to treat a diplomat” and added that it was “totally unacceptable”.

In today’s statement from the office of Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it was stated that “the Security Cabinet discussed steps to strengthen settlement in Judea and Samaria”.

Judea and Samaria are the Jewish biblical terms for the occupied Palestinian territory. The statement from Netanyahu’s office added that this is “in response to the countries that unilaterally recognised a Palestinian state after 7 October”.

The statement also remarked that the move is a part of a “series of responses against the Palestinian Authority following its actions against Israel in international bodies”.

Israel’s Defence Minister and Attorney General requested additional time to comment on some of the proposed clauses, and Netanyahu instructed that proposals must be submitted to a vote at the next Security Cabinet meeting.

The West Bank, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, is home to about 2.9 million Palestinians.

An estimated that over 500,000 Jewish settlers live in West Bank communities considered illegal under international law.

‘It’s kind of pitiful, isn’t it?’

Asked about the comments in Brussels this evening before an European Council meeting, Taoiseach Simon Harris said: “It’s kind of pitiful, isn’t it?”

Harris explained that the decision to recognise the State of Palestine was because Ireland “believes in the two-State solution” and added that any attempt by Netanyahu to change the reasons behind the decision was “simply a distraction” and “noise”.

Harris said the Israeli Prime Minister’s comments do not help toward putting an end to the conflict in Gaza and the “humanitarian catastrophe”.

“Ireland’s will continue to speak out against the violence, which has now gone well beyond being disproportionate. We are seeing so many children and civilians be attacked and killed on a daily basis.

“There needs to be an immediate ceasefire, there needs to be a monumental increase in the level of humanitarian aid that needs to access Gaza,” Harris said.

The World Health Organisation recently decried an escalating health crisis in the occupied West Bank, where growing restrictions, violence and attacks on health infrastructure are increasingly obstructing access to care.

In a statement, the UN health agency said it was calling “for the immediate and active protection of civilians and health care in the West Bank”.

It noted that a spike in violence in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, since 7 October had, by 10 June, left 521 Palestinians dead, including 126 children.

Palestinian officials have put the West Bank death toll even higher, saying at least 545 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops or settlers since the Gaza war broke out.

Includes reporting by Muiris O’Cearbhaill

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