Patrick Costello TD calls for recognition of the annexation, enacting the Occupied Territories Bill and recognition of the state of Palestine.
Full speech transcript:
While I agree with most or all of what has been said so far in the Chamber, I want to take a small step back and a step forward. I want to step back and look at the root causes of the onslaught we are witnessing on television. As another Deputy said already, the spark that ignited the current flame was the attempt by the Israeli Government to confiscate homes and to expel Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem. This was an action of annexation. It was a deliberate action inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. This is what we have been witnessing and what has been going on, not just in East Jerusalem but across the West Bank. We are dealing with an occupation and a de facto annexation, and we need to start calling it that. When the Minister was here taking a Topical Issue debate the other day, he spoke about Irish diplomacy preventing the annexation of the Jordan Valley. That may be a de jure annexation but we are witnessing a de facto annexation in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank, and it was the spark that caused the current flame. That annexation is rooted in the illegal occupation that has been going on since 1967. That occupation has lead to the annexation but also to all the other things we have heard about today, including the brutality of the occupying soldiers as witnessed by Israeli NGOs like Breaking the Silence, the demolitions, the dispossessions, the checkpoints, the ID cards, the restriction on movement, the restriction on access to education, the violence and the brutality that is upholding this occupation. That is the root cause – occupation and annexation – and that is what we must tackle. As I have said, when one looks at Israeli Government policies, they appear to be deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of Palestinians in large parts of the occupied territories.
I also want to take as step forward because we are, one hopes, going to have a ceasefire. The rockets will stop firing, the bombs will stop dropping and then what do we do? In 2014 the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, GRM, was set up to help to rebuild Gaza. The name GRM is Orwellian. The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism essentially stops the reconstruction of Gaza and prevents humanitarian aid coming in. All it did was increase the stranglehold of occupation and control over the Gaza Strip. We are now in a position at the UN Security Council to be engaging in that next round. The GRM was a tripartite agreement between Israel, Palestine and the UN. We must ensure that if there is another GRM, it should work this time. Ultimately, we should be ending the occupation because that is the only way we are going to reconstruct Gaza but in the meantime, before that, we must ensure the GRM works. We must support the International Criminal Court, ICC, to ensure any war crimes committed now actually end up there and do not happen with impunity. We must ensure that if there is going to be another Goldstone report, it should be funded and supported properly. All these things are essential but in the long term, the only thing we can really do to end this is to recognise the annexation, call it out and work to end the occupation. All of the things other Deputies have spoken about, including recognition, the occupied territories Bill and recognition of de facto annexation are the things we should be doing to achieve that end.