Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Questions (890)

Patrick Costello

Question:

890. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps that he has taken to prevent the targeting of EU-funded aid structures by Israel and subsequently condemn those given UN reports (details supplied) that in the first two months of 2021 the targeting of EU-funded aid structures by Israel tripled compared with the monthly average in 2020; the penalties Ireland and the EU will implement in response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20545/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

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, and in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention.

I am extremely concerned at the nature of these policies, especially in areas where illegal Israeli settlements have already been constructed. The only conclusion we can draw, is that they are aimed at forcing Palestinians off their land.

Ireland regularly conveys our views on these actions to the Israeli authorities, both directly and through the EU. I met the Israeli Ambassador on 18 March on a range of issues, and conveyed in the strongest terms my concerns on demolitions of humanitarian aid and the issue of settlements. Ireland’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv has raised demolitions with the Israeli authorities and I have also outlined our position during visits to the region.

At the Quarterly debate on the Middle East of the UN Security Council in January, I called on Israel to halt these demolitions and to allow for legal construction for Palestinian communities during a debate on the Middle East. I issued a statement on the demolitions in Humsa Al Bqai'a (also known as Khirbet Humsa) on 5 February in which I called on Israel, as the occupying power, to fulfil its obligations towards this community and to cease its harmful practice of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian property.

Ireland, the EU, and the wider humanitarian community are supporting impacted communities. While 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 issue consistently through the West Bank Protection Consortium, which plays a leading role in supporting threatened communities from forcible transfer, coordinating 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.

Question No. 891 answered with Question No. 836.