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Sam Boal

Coveney expresses concern to Mike Pompeo and Israeli foreign minister about annexation plans

Israel’s plan to redraw the map has come under fierce international criticism.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER Simon Coveney has told the Dáil that he has spoken to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to express concern  about the country’s annexation plan. 

The plan, unveiled in January, envisions turning over some 30% of the territory under permanent Israeli control, while giving the Palestinians autonomy in the remaining land.

The plan, which has been backed by the US administration, aims to redraw the Mideast map and has come under fierce international criticism.

The UN secretary-general, the European Union and key Arab countries have all said Israeli annexation would violate international law and undermine the goal of establishing a viable independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The international community considers the territory to be occupied, and for Israel’s more than 120 settlements to be illegal.

Coveney told the Dáil that Ireland has been consistently vocal and critical about the illegal settlements, stating that he has raised concerns in bilateral meetings with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He said he will also be meeting the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland tomorrow.

The minister said he has asked that the EU Commission put together a list of options about how the EU as a bloc can respond if Israel presses ahead with the annexation plan.

We should do “everything we can to discourage the annexation of land that is not Israeli land”, said Coveney.

Israel listens to the EU, and will pay attention to how it responds to the proposed plan, said the minister.

The last number of years have been “very damaging” to the relationship between Israel and the EU. 

“I can understand why Irish people have been hugely frustrated to the actions that have damaged the progress to a two-state solution,” he said.

Coveney was asked by a number of TDs why the government will not press ahead with the Occupied Territories Bill, which seeks to prevent Ireland from trading in goods and services imported from Israeli-occupied territories.

The minister is against the bill, stating that he believes engagement and direct conversation is the way to persuade people of your point of view.

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