I am aware of the Deputy's long-held views on and support of the Palestinian cause. The structures to which the Deputy refers were among seven donor-funded humanitarian structures confiscated by the Israeli authorities in October 2018 from two vulnerable Palestinian communities located in area C of the occupied West Bank. The structures were co-funded by the EU and the West Bank Protection Consortium and were provided in order to address the basic needs of the population and to support children’s right to education in a safe environment as part of a humanitarian response mechanism.
Ireland joined the European Commission-led West Bank Protection Consortium in 2017 at the instigation of the Tánaiste during his first official visit to Israel and Palestine after taking up his portfolio. The consortium plays a leading role in supporting threatened communities and co-ordinating the provision of essential services to them, including material assistance and legal aid. Ireland’s membership of the consortium underlines our commitment to reducing the vulnerability of Palestinian communities living in area C of the West Bank.
Following reports that the confiscated humanitarian assets were to be auctioned by the Israeli civil administration this month, Ireland joined the EU and other consortium members in calling on the Israeli authorities to return the confiscated items to their intended beneficiaries, without precondition. The Tánaiste understands that the auction had been postponed. Irish officials in Tel Aviv and Ramallah are following this matter closely and are working with other members of the consortium to determine how best to pursue this issue.
The practice of demolition and confiscation of humanitarian assets, including education infrastructure, is contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law, including provisions of international humanitarian law and of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These practices also cause suffering to ordinary Palestinians, and impinge on the right of children to an education.
Ireland regularly conveys its views on these actions to the Israeli authorities, both directly and through the EU. I have done so myself on my visits to the region.