Sir, – I write in response to the Arthur Beesley and Mark Weiss article, (“State may seek boycott of goods from Israeli settlements”, Home News, May 15th). The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is a programme of the World Council of Churches. In recent years more than 20 Irish people have served as human rights observers in Palestine and Israel with EAPPI. We have seen first-hand how illegal settlements are not just destroying any hope of peace but how they are devastating lives, livelihoods, homes and communities of ordinary Palestinian men, women and children.
Currently Ireland and many other EU states are supporting illegal settlements by allowing goods from illegal settlements into their markets.
The Tánaiste’s proposal that Ireland may push for the EU to ban goods from Israeli settlements if Israel does not quickly change its settlements policy in Palestinian territories is a welcome development that is both measured and moral.
The key characteristic of the proposal is the fact that it is aimed at illegality and not the internationally recognised state of Israel. Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory have long been recognised as illegal under international law. So while there may be arguments against the proposal it is important to be mindful of the fact that such a measure is an attempt to wash ours and the EU’s hands of illegality and involvement in the illegal settlement project. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Since Ireland is well-known for punching above its weight in the affairs of other nations, it is a great pity to see our Government back yet another one-sided approach to solving the problems in the Middle East. The report on Eamon Gilmore’s address in Brussels (Front page, May 15th) when he told EU foreign ministers that “Ireland may push for the EU to ban goods from Israeli settlements” raises many familiar questions.
But this time he went on to state that “the Government may seek to have certain extremist settlers banned from the EU if they do not stop their violence in settlement areas”.
To the best of my knowledge, none of our Ministers for Foreign Affairs have made any similar statement in relation to those in Gaza responsible for the deadly rocket attacks directed towards the civilian population of southern Israel over the past decade. – Yours, etc,