18 May 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Strong words from Irish MEP who is critical of Israel’s activities which he calls “blatantly illegal”
Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has called on the new Israeli Government to desist from any attempts to annex more land or extend their sovereignty “to their already illegal settlements” (his words) and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank or risk losing their preferential relationship with the EU.
Kelleher, an MEP from Cork, was commenting following the swearing-in of the new Government over the weekend and its commitment to continue on with the last government’s proposals to annex further Palestinian lands.
Kelleher said “This is a blatantly illegal action by the new Israeli government. It flies in the face of international law and will lead to the further isolation of the State of Israel on the international stage.
“The European Union, and in particular, the European Council, must immediately unite in their opposition to such a move, and make it very clear through the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell that such a move would result in immediate and strong sanctions.
“Israeli goods already receive preferential tariffs under the EU-Israeli Association Agreement. Israel can also access funding under Horizon 2020. These benefits must be reviewed if Israel continues along this path.
In the last Dáil term (Irish Parliament) his Fianna Fáil party supported legislation to ban and criminalise trade and economic support for “illegal settlements in occupied territories” (his words). While the current Irish government was unwilling to introduce such a law due to EU trade rules, “it’s now time for this issue to be debated and introduced on an EU-wide level” he said.
“Further encroachments into Palestinian lands will undermine the very viability of a Palestinian State, the Middle East Peace Process and a two state solution.
“No other democratic country would be given such leeway in terms of its barefaced repudiation of international law. Unfortunately, there are members of the UN Security Council and the European Council who give legitimacy to these actions by vetoing any attempts to curtail Israel’s actions. The actions of the Israeli government must be viewed objectively as a breach of international law that cannot be tolerated.
“As we have seen clearly in recent months and years, the United States of America is no longer an honest broker in the Middle East Peace Process. They have firmly taken the side of the Israeli government. Likewise, countries such as Hungary have blocked attempts at achieving a common EU position for naked political reasons.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu can still pull back if he so chooses, but time is running out. Patience is also running out. International law must mean something. States that continually flout international law should not be given preferential treatment by the EU,” concluded Kelleher.