The Occupied Territories Bill

A moral and legal stance

Sir, – Stephen Oliver Murray describes the Occupied Territories Bill (OTB) as “clumsy” because it would require the Minister for Foreign Affairs “to list all such programmes [of illegal settlement] worldwide, lest Ireland be accused of singling out Israel” (Letters, March 21st).

Apart from Israel in Palestine and Syria, I can think of Turkey in Cyprus, China in Tibet, Pakistan in Kashmir and Morocco in Western Sahara as regimes of colonisation and/or annexation.

Deploying my fingers, I therefore arrive at a count of five. Even if he can come up with a couple more, does Mr Murray believe that Micheál Martin is incapable of such mathematical wizardry?

Mr Murray’s objection that the OTB might “endanger our strong bilateral relations with other friendly states that do much trade with us” seems more to the point.


In other words, those of the immortal Puff Daddy, “it’s all about the Benjamins” (dollars), and questions of principle and international law can go by the board. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.

Sir, – The Occupied Territories Bill does not specify any polity or any geographic location, and would apply not only to current instances such as Morocco’s illegal colonies in Western Sahara, but proactively to territories illegally occupied by expansionist states in the future.

For instance, if the Bill had been enacted early in our current Government’s tenure, it would now stand as a warning to Vladimir Putin that his illegal encroachment into Donetsk and Luhansk will not ultimately be met with international acceptance, regardless of the outcome of his brutal attacks against the Ukrainian people.

Mr Murray seems to think that Irish policy-makers should run scared of the perennial accusation of “singling out Israel”. Regrettably, he is correct in predicting that unconditional supporters of the Israeli state would rehash such threadbare accusations, but I cannot agree that our nation’s moral or legal stance should be dictated by lobbyists for a state which stands accused by numerous human rights organisations of committing the crime of apartheid. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.