I am aware of the case raised by the Deputy. The arrest and harassment of the person in question, a human rights defender and activist, is a matter of concern. The person is being tried by an Israeli Military Court on 18 charges, all related to his human rights work and protests against occupation policies and actions. This case has gone on for some time: the latest court hearing was on 7 April and the next hearing is scheduled for 26 June. The Irish missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah have followed the case, and staff based in Ramallah have attended previous hearings of the case.
The Israeli military court system, which is applied to Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is itself a matter of deep concern which I have raised directly with the Israeli authorities during my visits to Israel and Palestine. These military courts have a near one hundred percent conviction rate, a statistic which raises serious questions about the system’s compliance with international standards of due process. Palestinian defendants do not enjoy the same legal rights and protections as those which apply to Israeli citizens living in the same area.
The person in question is simultaneously facing trial in a Palestinian court in Hebron, where he has been indicted on several charges, including under the 2017 Electronic Crimes Law. The next hearing in the Palestinian court is set for 22 May. I have concerns about the potential impact of the Electronic Crimes Law on freedom of expression. The EU has raised the issue of this person's detention, as well as the Electronic Crimes Law, directly in its dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.
I have previously expressed my concern at the increasing measures taken by Israel in particular to impede and prevent the actions of human rights defenders, both local activists and international observers. While Israel remains in military occupation of another territory, it should expect both local protests and international scrutiny, and should tolerate and accept this to the greatest degree possible.
Ireland firmly opposes actions designed to limit the space in which civil society can operate and expects that the same standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms should be applied by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to all people under their jurisdiction. It is unacceptable to imprison individuals for peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms. Ireland consistently advocates for the right of civil society actors and human rights defenders to operate in a safe environment, without fear of reprisal for speaking out. This is a cornerstone of a truly free and democratic society.
My Department regularly raises our concerns about the protection of human rights and human rights defenders with both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.