Tánaiste ‘disagrees fundamentally’ with US declaration that Israeli settlements legal

Ireland’s views have been communicated to US administration

Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Dáil that Ireland’s clear position on the issue of Israeli settlements is that ‘settlements are illegal under international law’. File photograph: Reuters

Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Dáil that Ireland’s clear position on the issue of Israeli settlements is that ‘settlements are illegal under international law’. File photograph: Reuters

 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said he “disagrees fundamentally” with the US declaration that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are not illegal.

He told the Dáil that Ireland’s clear position on the issue is that “settlements are illegal under international law”.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law”.

Mr Coveney said Ireland’s views on settlement have been communicated to the US administration and he hoped to meet the US ambassador soon and “I will also raise the issue with him”.

He stressed that Ireland and the EU would not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, “other than those agree by the parties”.

The Tánaiste, who is Minister for Foreign Affairs, said he supported the statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherina which re-affirmed that “all settlement activity is illegal under international law and erodes the viability of a two-state solution”.

“I have no difficult in saying that I disagree fundamentally with the US comments on the issue,” he added.

The comments from the US “make it easier for an Israeli government to focus on expanding settlements in Palestinian territories and to do so illegally under international law”.

Mr Coveney was responding to Rise TD Paul Murphy who called on him to “condemn in the strongest possible terms” the US decision.

He said that more importantly than it being against international law “it is clear it is against any basic element of justice and equality in the world”.

Mr Murphy said the act will “doubtless give a green light for more violence and settlements to be built and will continue as is the purpose to block any road to a viable Palestinian state by breaking up Palestinian territory”.

The Dublin South-West TD said the US announcement was one of a series by president Donald Trump including the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017and the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv where all other embassies are based, to Jerusalem.

Mr Murphy asked why the Government continued to block the legislation introduced by Independent Senator Frances Black to block the importation of goods made in the illegal settlements.

And he claimed the Government “will cry crocodile tears about the Palestinians, which is the EU position generally”.

But the Tánaiste said he would not support Senator Black’s Bill because he did not believe it was legally sound.

“I do not think Ireland has the capacity to impose what is effectively a trade sanction when the competence and responsibility for decisions on trade lies with the EU collectively.”