“We have spoken a lot about genocide. It is important to underline that genocide turns on intention to kill or destroy. It is not about the numbers, the method used or the time it takes to happen. Before the current brutal phase of this long conflict, we saw the brutality of the occupation, with settlement building by Israel in contravention of international law, land confiscations, land closures and house demolitions. We have seen a military occupation that is brutalising and dehumanising to Palestinians. This has been going on since 1948 and 1967. Analysis by the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, an Israeli NGO, in respect of these house demolitions and land clearances states:
The motivation for demolishing these homes is purely political, and racially informed: to either drive the Palestinians out of the country altogether or to confine the four million residents of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza to small, crowded, impoverished and disconnected enclaves …
The latter is the imposition of a way of life designed to destroy, in part, the Palestinian people with deliberate intent. That alone, even before we look at what has been happening in recent months, meets the criteria for an investigation of the crime of genocide. We were already looking at a slow-motion genocide. Now, of course, it is significantly more brutal. It is on our television screens. As stated at the ICJ, the victims are now filming their own death and genocide. We can see the cruelty, inhumanity and brutality at first hand. However, the bombs will stop eventually. What will be left after that? It will be occupation and apartheid. The occupation is not going anywhere. There is no action happening to challenge that occupation.
Other Deputies have spoken about the impunity Israel is facing. We need to do more. We need to step up, move beyond words and do more. Ireland has been very involved in and supportive of the advisory opinion case at the ICJ, which started back in December 2022, I think, and is finally coming to fruition in terms of oral arguments this February. Will the Attorney General talk about the settlements, the house demolitions and the land confiscations, all of which have been designed to force a quiet transfer on Palestinian people? We know this because that is what the Israeli state representatives themselves say. Benjamin Netanyahu has been very clear that from the river to the sea will be Israeli and will be an Israeli state and there will be no Palestinian state. What is that if not genocidal language? Will the Attorney General raise the crime of apartheid we are seeing every day when he is on his feet in the Hague in February? We need to see that and hear those words spoken and we do need to do more.
Recognition of Palestine is in the programme for Government. It is couched in language of when the time is right and when it will facilitate peace. It is couched in conditionals. If we are not going to recognise Palestine now, when are we going to do it? If we do not do it now, very soon there will be no Palestine left to recognise. We have been strong in some of our words. We have been strong in the engagement with the advisory opinion case. We need to do significantly more if we are going to address the brutal reality that Palestinians are living under.”