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The government was working with Sinn Féin on the motion's wording over the weekend.

Coveney says Israel’s actions amount to a 'de facto annexation' but Hamas violence must also be condemned in SF motion

The minister said he found it “deeply troubling” that Sinn Fein will not also condemn the actions of Hamas.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER Simon Coveney says the government will vote in favour of a Sinn Féin motion on the annexation of Palestinian lands by the Israeli government if a paragraph also condemning the actions of Hamas is inserted.

In what is viewed as a significant move, the Cabinet held an incorporeal meeting today to discuss their position on the motion. It’s understood that government officials worked with Sinn Féin on the wording of the motion over the weekend.

It was decided that the government would back the motion if it acknowledged the violence in the region, from all sides, in recent weeks.

Speaking in the Dáil, Coveney said the motion underlines the “seriousness” in which this House views the ongoing situation in Palestine. 

“Israel’s actions in increasing the scope and density of settlements and surrounding infrastructure, which effectively cuts off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, indicates an intention of permanency,” he said, stating that this is something the international community cannot ignore.

“We need to be honest with what is happening on the ground and call it out”, he said, describing what is happening as “de facto annexation”.

Ireland is the first EU member to state this, Coveney said.

He said the government had hoped there could be cross-party support for the motion and the Dáil could send a message to the global community.

However he said this was “not possible” due to Sinn Féin’s “inability” to also condemn the actions of Hamas “from firing rockets into Israel and killing innocent civilians”. 

The minister said he found it “deeply troubling” that the main opposition party cannot bring itself to also condemn the actions of Hamas for also killing children and innocent civilians.

The government amendment to include this condemnation will “bring about balance” to the Dáil motion, said Coveney. 

“We cannot return to a business as usual,” said Coveney.

“It’s simply no longer an option. We cannot return to the flouting of international law, with the relentless expansion of illegal settlements, settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. We cannot return to forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank,” he said.

“We cannot return to demolition of Palestinian property, violence and intimidation,” added the minister.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald said the Irish parliament can speak with one voice, and stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people. 

She said the motion is the most explicit call from the Dáil to the end of annexation.

“The time to act is now and that is what the global community demands,” she said.

The Sinn Féin motion call on all parties to recognise international humanitarian law and international human rights law to protect civilians.

The motion also recognises that the “forced displacement of the protected Palestinian population and the presence and expansion of Israeli settlements, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, undermines the prospects of peace – not just in recent weeks but over decades – and represent flagrant violations of international law”.

The motion also states that the annexation of territory is a violation of the fundamental principle of international law, and it condemns the recent and ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The annexation by Israel of East Jerusalem and its settlement activity there and in other areas of the West Bank, are also recognised as serious breaches of international law in the motion.

The Sinn Féin motion also calls on the Government to urge Israel to bring to an end all settlement activity and not to impede the collective right to self-determination of the Palestinian people as a whole, and states that the Irish government should focus its efforts on bringing an end to settlement activity.

Sinn Féin’s John Brady said today’s vote makes Ireland the first country to categorically assert that Israel is guilty of the annexation of Palestinian lands.

“Ireland has the potential to be a pathfinder for a principled and morally robust approach within the European Union and the UN Security Council.

“The issue we are addressing is one of international law. And by recognising that the crime of de facto annexation is taking place in the occupied Palestinian territories, we are baldly stating that Israel is acting illegally under international law,” said Brady.

“In taking this step Ireland is acknowledging the findings under international law, of the UN Security Council, of the UN General Assembly – that Israel is guilty of the crime of annexation.

“And that de facto annexation is just as much an international crime as de jure annexation,” he added.

He said this is a first step, but a major step, towards bringing the weight of international law to bear on Israel in a meaningful manner.

People Before Profit’s Gino Kenny called out what he said was the hypocrisy of the EU for imposing sanctions on Belarus while ignoring the killing of children in Palestine.

People Before Profit has put down an amendment for the government to expel the Israeli ambassador from Ireland.

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