Ireland condemns Israel, sanctions on the cards
The Irish government has supported a parliamentary motion condemning the "de facto annexation" of Palestinian land by Israeli authorities, in what it said was the first use of the phrase by a European Union country in relation to Israel.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Tuesday that the motion, brought forward by opposition party Sinn Fein, "is a clear signal of the depth of feeling across Ireland".
"The scale, pace and strategic nature of Israel's actions on settlement expansion and the intent behind it have brought us to a point where we need to be honest about what is actually happening on the ground. … It is de facto annexation," Coveney, of the centre-right Fine Gael party, told parliament.
"This is not something that I, or in my view this house, says lightly. We are the first EU state to do so. But it reflects the huge concern we have about the intent of the actions and of course, their impact," he said.
If passed, the amendment would require the government to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland and to impose economic, political and cultural sanctions against Israel.
Most countries view settlements Israel has built in territory captured in the 1967 war as illegal and as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
Some of the Irish parliamentarians wore face masks bearing the Palestine flag or of the checkered keffiyeh pattern. The Irish parliament, or Dáil, was set to debate the People Before Profit amendment of the Sinn Fein Private Members motion later yesterday, with a vote expected later.