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Micheál Martin Sasko Lazarov
West Bank

Irish travel ban for Israeli settlers likely, as disagreement remains at EU level

The Tánaiste added that it was “unusual” that on the issue of travel bans for settlers, the United States is “more advanced” than the EU.

TÁNAISTE MICHEÁL MARTIN has said an Irish travel ban for Israeli settlers is likely as disagreement remains on an EU wide ban. 

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin today, Martin, who is also Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the Government is currently working on implementing a ban but he would not say when it is likely to be in place.

This comes after European Union leaders failed to reach agreement over the weekend for an EU wide position.

For months, Ireland has urged the EU to take action against violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have displaced Palestinians.

Yesterday, all European Union countries, except for Hungary, jointly called for an eventual ceasefire in Gaza and urged Israel not to launch its planned assault on Rafah.

The Tánaiste said today there was “deep frustration” at Hungary’s position following the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting.

Martin explained that EU-wide action would be stronger than action from individual states as it would allow for not just a travel ban but also asset freezing. 

Individual member states do not have the competence to implement asset freezes on Israeli settlers, but some, including Ireland, do have competence on travel bans. 

Martin said Ireland is now going to work with some other countries on implementing travel bans against Israeli settlers. 

He added that in the meantime, Ireland will continue to try to persuade Hungary to join with the rest of the EU in implementing more significant sanctions against Israel.

The Tánaiste added that it was “unusual” that on the issue of travel bans for settlers, the United States is “more advanced” than the EU. 

The US implemented visa bans on Israeli settlers in the West Bank in December 2023

Ireland and Spain’s letter 

Last week, in a joint letter with Spain to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Ireland called for an urgent review of the EU/Israel trade agreement on the basis that Israel may be in breach of the human rights clause of the agreement. 

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed today that the Commission has acknowledged the letter but a formal response has not yet been received. 

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he expects a response from the Commission and added:

“Others are quite interested in this as well and supportive”.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council will today vote on a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

For the first time, the United States has backed a UN effort to call for an end to the fighting.