Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2014: Messages from Select Sub-Committees
 Header Item Palestine: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 2

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Estimates for Public Services 2014: Messages from Select Sub-Committees

Acting Chairman (Deputy Frank Feighan): Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan The Select Sub-Committee on Children and Youth Affairs has completed its consideration of the following Supplementary Estimate for Public Services for the year ending 31 December 2014 - Vote 40.

  The Select Sub-Committee on Education and Skills has completed its consideration of the following Supplementary Estimate for Public Services for the year ending 31 December 2014 - Vote 26.

Palestine: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

  The following motion was moved by Deputy Gerry Adams on Tuesday, 9 December 2014:

That Dáil Éireann---

notes that:
— in 2011, the Irish Government upgraded the status, titles, and functional privileges of the Palestinian Mission to Ireland to close to that of an embassy;

— in November 2012, Ireland voted in favour of the United Nations General Assembly motion granting "non-member observer state" status to Palestine;

— the long-standing commitment Irish Governments have given to the development of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state, and their support for the achievement of a sovereign state of Palestine existing in peace with its neighbours including the State of Israel;

— as of 8 December 2014, 135 countries have formally recognised the state of Palestine, including eight EU member states - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta, Cyprus and Sweden;

— Seanad Éireann, on 22 October 2014, unanimously accepted a motion calling on the Government "to formally recognise the state of Palestine and do everything it can at the international level to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict"; and

— on 30 October 2014, Sweden became the first EU member state to formally recognise the state of Palestine while a member state of the EU;
recognises that:
— finding a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Arabs and Israelis in a broader context, is a key element of Irish foreign policy;

— the right of Palestinians to self-determination and to have their own state as well as the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders are unquestionable; and

— continued Israeli settlement construction and extension activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, as well as the continued expropriation of Palestinian land and demolition of Palestinian property by Israel is illegal and severely threatens the establishment of a viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders;
concludes that:
— the international law criteria for recognition of a Palestinian state have been fulfilled; and

— the achievement of a fully independent sovereign state of Palestine is an essential element to the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict; and calls on the Government to:

— officially recognise the state of Palestine, on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, as established in UN resolutions, as a further positive contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;

— do all it can to assist in the development of the democratic and state institutions of the Palestinian state; and

— do everything it can, at the international level, to help secure an inclusive and viable peace process, and two-state solution, in order to bring about the positive conditions to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace I will start by quoting the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charles Flanagan, who this summer stated while Israel was bombing the living daylights out of Gaza:

The horror has not been confined to the Palestinian side only. Millions of Israelis have been forced to seek shelter on a daily basis from the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel. Some 55 Israelis, of whom the vast majority have been IDF personnel, and one Thai national have died.

As it turns out, only three Israelis were killed in Israel by the "toy rockets" that Hamas was firing in the other direction. Some 2,100 people were killed in Gaza, 500 of whom were children. We had little to say about it.

  On a different occasion during the summer, the Minister stated:

The blockade of Gaza must be ended. So too must the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and other militants, including Islamic Jihad and also the building of tunnels for the purpose of attacking Israelis. Hamas must renounce violence as a means of achieving its political objectives.

This is the fourth largest army in the world attacking the poorest nation on the planet.

  The Minister, in his defence a couple of weeks ago when we argued for recognition of the Palestinian state, stated that it needed to be remembered that recognition of any state would not bring peace to the region. He was right, but he did not add that the reason Israel could carry out genocide to the extent that it does in Gaza was because the US let it do so and supported it without qualm.

  People might forget but, in 1948, the Jews expelled, massacred, destroyed and raped in Palestine. As a result of that campaign, 500 Palestinian villages and 11 urban neighbourhoods were destroyed. Some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled and several thousand were massacred. It is called "genocide". Things have not changed much since. The US has unreservedly supported genocide in Gaza. Since we allow the US military to use Shannon as a military base to do whatever it feels like in the Middle East, to carry arms to the Middle East and to carry reinforcements to the Israelis, we are complicit.

  The latest revelations concerning the CIA torture dossier - although the US Senate has only revealed 500 pages of a 6,000-page document, fair play to it for doing so - will hopefully bring our Government to the point of examining our role in what has transpired in the Middle East during the past 15 years. We need an inquiry into who authorised Shannon to be used as a US military base. It is nothing short of a disgrace. We have been so silent, it is frightening. That the new Minister was silent this summer and spent more time giving out about Hamas than he did about what the Israelis were doing to Palestinians in Gaza beggars belief.

  I just met a man on the street who told me that he had heard people claiming there were only 30,000 people at today's protest. He added that he would like to see them try to get all of those protesters into Croke Park, which can hold 80,000, because they would not be able to. Some 250,000 attend the St. Patrick's Day parade. He told me that he had attended most of those parades but that today's protest was bigger.

  The Government is on its last legs. The sooner it realises it, the better. The people have seen enough of it.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly There is a tragic irony in the fact that as we discuss this motion, we have also been privy to the news that a Palestinian Cabinet Minister died today while involved in a protest against illegal Israeli settlements. It is a little sickening when we think about how glad we are in some ways to be able to welcome the recognition in our Parliament of a Palestinian state. We have to jolt ourselves back, as it is just a tiny step in the overall battle. Of course we welcome it but the fact that the Government is not opposing the motion in some ways shows how toothless the motion is. It is important but it is not enough. If we are serious about what is going on in the occupied territories, countries like Ireland have to be seen to be doing much more.

In the 1980s, Ireland was the first country in the EU to declare that the Palestinian people had the right to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent state in Palestine. It is a little late in the day to support this motion but I am glad that we do. Let us have a real discussion on what we need to do to force the Israelis into some form of decency. The reality is that we need a serious and sustained campaign of pressure and economic sanctions.

It is rich that the Government is not opposing this motion but is silent on the fact that our Defence Forces have engaged in military contracts with Elbit Systems Limited, which has been involved in illegal activities and breaches of international law. It is rich that we allow companies like Cement Roadstone Holdings and others to trade in the settlements. If we mean what we say by the gesture that is this motion we must do more and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the decent Israelis who do not want to be a part of the genocide. We need to take further action.

Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I am pleased to speak in support of the motion, which will see Dáil Éireann officially recognise the state of Palestine. I am glad to see this recognition based on the 1967 border, as called for in numerous UN resolutions and by activists like the late Edward Said and the people of Palestine. A two-state solution has long been the goal of the Palestinian people. It was recognised as the most effective way forward since Palestine was a British territory but it is yet to be achieved.

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