I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. It is something in which I have big personal interest. Promises made during the election campaign in Israel, including threats to annex lands in the West Bank, are irresponsible and have a damaging impact on the prospects for a peace agreement and an end to the conflict in that region. Unhelpful election rhetoric is not unique to Israel, and Ireland and the EU will ultimately judge the next Israeli Government by its actions. However, such words are not without consequence, since they send dangerous messages and contribute to a climate of fear and insecurity among Palestinians.
Annexation of territory by force is illegal under international law, including the UN Charter. Any unilateral annexation by Israel of occupied territory would have no legitimacy, and would not be recognised or accepted by Ireland or the international community more generally. The position of Ireland and the EU is clear. We will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties involved. It has long been proposed that a future peace agreement may involve some agreed mutual border adjustments, but such changes can only be by mutual agreement.
With regard to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks last week about the Jordan Valley, I would not usually comment on what is said in the course of an election campaign. However, due to the gravity of the issue, I felt it was important to make my views known. I also directed my officials to speak to the Israeli ambassador and to request that he convey Ireland’s position directly to his authorities. In fact, we called him into the Department and our Secretary General spoke directly to him. The EU position has also been reaffirmed publicly following Prime Minister Netanyahu's comments. As set out in numerous Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, the EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. The settlement policy, including in east Jerusalem, is illegal under international law. Its continuation undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.