We have discussed this matter of demolitions and settlements before at Question Time. The demolition by Israeli authorities of private property is of grave concern. Demolition and confiscation of humanitarian assets, including education infrastructure, is contrary to Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. The only conclusion we can draw from the systematic nature of these policies, especially in areas where illegal Israeli settlements have already been constructed, is that they are aimed at forcing Palestinians off their land.
Ireland regularly conveys its views on these actions to the Israeli authorities, both directly and through the EU. I have also raised the issue on my visits to the region on numerous occasions. I issued a statement on recent demolitions on 6 November in which I underlined that destruction of private property such as this is clearly prohibited under international humanitarian law. Ireland, the EU and the wider humanitarian community are supporting impacted communities.
My primary concern is the hardship and injustice that demolitions and confiscations cause for Palestinian families. It is of additional concern when those structures confiscated or demolished are donor-funded. It is important that the question of recompense for humanitarian relief funded by our taxpayers should be pursued. Ireland pursues this matter issue consistently through the West Bank Protection Consortium, which plays a leading role in supporting threatened communities from forcible transfer, co-ordinating the provision of essential services to them, including material and humanitarian assistance and legal aid. It is the practice of the consortium to raise the issue of compensation directly with the Israeli authorities and to date, the consortium has sought compensation of over €625,000 in respect of confiscated or demolished assets. In other words, we believe that we can be more impactful and effective if we work with other countries in a consortium like this, which involves some other EU countries as well, and we help to fund activities such as legal action taken on the back of these cases of demolition and confiscation.