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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
International Court of Justice

Varadkar 'uncomfortable' about accusing Israel of genocide, given past treatment of Jews

He said that the Holocaust in Europe “certainly was a genocide”.

LEO VARADKAR HAS said he wants to be careful about accusing Israel of genocide given that millions of Jewish people were the victims of it in the past.

He said the government wouldn’t use the term unless it was “absolutely convinced” that genocide was occuring in occupied Palestine.

The Taoiseach was responding to the question of whether Ireland would join South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about the Israeli state’s treatment of people in Gaza.

Varadkar said: “I would be a little bit uncomfortable about accusing Israel, a Jewish state, of genocide given the fact that six million Jews – over half the population of Jews in Europe – were killed.

“That certainly was a genocide. A genocide is defined, as you know, as a deliberate attempt to eliminate an entire population or a large part of it.

“I would just think we need to be a little bit careful about using words like that unless we’re absolutely convinced that they’re the appropriate ones.”

One in 100 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed since the 7 October attacks by Hamas. More than 22,000 have died in the east Palestine enclave, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and an additional 58,416 people have been injured.

Varadkar said that Ireland was responding in ways that don’t involved the ICJ.

“Among the things that we’re looking for is a review of the EU-Israel trade agreement to see if they have breached the human rights clause in that, I called for that at the European Council meeting back in December and also we’re working with a number of other European countries on the possibility of a meaningful decision on the recognition of Palestine.”

Opposition parties called on the government to join South Africa’s genocide filing ahead of the first hearing of the case next week, which will take place in the Hague in the Netherlands.

Senior politicians from Sinn Féin, Labour, Social Democrats and People Before Profit joined with Independent Senator Frances Black and the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign today for a press conference in which the government was accused of “cowardice” and having “double standards”

With reporting by Jane Matthews and PA