Before the latest EU council meeting I called on the minister to act on the demoliton of a Palestinian village of Khirbet a-Rakeez, where a school funded by the European Union and Irish Aid was demolished. Yesterday I further highlighted the case of Ras al-Tin where another Irish Aid funded school is facing imminent demolition.
Full Speech Transcript:
The Minister of State will probably remember that in the pre-European Council statements I mentioned the Palestinian village of Khirbet a-Rakeez, where a school funded by the European Union and Irish Aid has been demolished. At the time, I urged the Minister of State to engage with his European colleagues to seek compensation for the demolition by the Israeli military of aid structures funded by Irish taxpayers. In the post-European Council statements, I want to raise the issue of Ras al-Tin, an area just outside Ramallah where another Irish Aid-funded school is facing imminent demolition.
Despite Covid-19, demolitions of Palestinian homes and EU and Irish Aid-funded structures have continued. The civil administration that oversees the occupation claims these homes are built without planning permission. For a Palestinian to get planning permits is next to impossible. The system is deliberately designed to prevent Palestinians from obtaining permits. At the same time, the Israeli Government has legalised in recent weeks what would, in its eyes, have been illegal settlements. These are outposts built without planning permission. What we have on the ground is one geographic region where two laws operate in different ways based simply on nationality. That is not good enough. By not seeking compensation, we are somewhat complicit in this. As I said before the European Council meeting, at a minimum, we must demand compensation and work with our EU partners to get it. Better still, we should work with them to prevent the demolition of these much-needed aid structures in Palestine.
There is a history of the Israeli military and occupation acting with impunity towards international law. We cannot allow this to continue. It is up to us, as the people who provided this funding, to demand that it end. On the ground in Palestine, annexation in name has been paused but de facto annexation continues. According to Peace Now, almost 5,000 settlement units were announced recently. The building of settlements, the confiscation of Palestinian land and the imposition of Israeli sovereignty on Palestine continue. This is de facto annexation even if it does not go by that name and we need to do more about it.
I will speak about the village of Ras al-Tin and the school that is facing imminent demolition, which was built with Irish Aid funds. We need to work with our European Union counterparts to prevent this demolition and demand compensation if it goes ahead. This is an ongoing issue and it will only end if we find a way to end the occupation. In the meantime, we need to ensure that any breaches of international law do not take place with impunity or without consequences, as has pretty much been the case to date. I urge the Minister of State to use whatever diplomatic channels he can to address this issue and to seek compensation.