The Occupied Territories Bill
Sir, – UN special rapporteur Michael Lynk (Letters, April 29th) writes that he is “greatly encouraged to observe the progression of the Occupied Territories Bill through the Irish parliament”.
The Bill is not only immoral and discriminatory but clearly contravenes EU trade laws and is therefore illegal, as outlined by both the Attorney General and Tánaiste Simon Coveney.
By appealing to the hollow consensus that Israel is an “occupying power”, Prof Lynk invokes one of the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, which states an “occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies”.
Anyone who has visited the small Jewish communities who have moved beyond the Green Line (not an internationally recognised border, simply a demarcation line in place until the disputed territory is resolved) will clearly see they were neither “deported or transferred” there by the State of Israel.
Occupation occurs when a country takes over the sovereign territory of another country. But the West Bank was never part of Jordan, which seized it in 1949 and ethnically cleansed it of its entire Jewish population. Nor was the area ever the site of an Arab Palestinian state.
According to Prof Eugene Kontorovich, one of the world’s pre-eminent experts on universal jurisdiction and an international law expert, “A country cannot occupy territory to which it has a sovereign title, and Israel has the strongest claim to the land. International law holds that a new country inherits the borders of the prior geopolitical unit in that territory. Israel was preceded by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, whose borders included the West Bank.”
Prof Kontorovich has also stated that even if the disputed territories were “occupied” the idea that they should exist as an impermeable demographic bubble, meaning that no Jew can move in, has no basis in the history or application of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Almost every prolonged occupation since 1949 has seen population movement into the occupied territory. In not one of those cases has the United Nations, or to the best of our knowledge, an Irish senator or NGO, ever claimed a violation of the Geneva Convention provision.
Prof Lynk has a long, documented history of involvement with groups that promote a Palestinian narrative of the conflict, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – a movement that seeks the social isolation and delegitimisation of Israel – and of which Frances Black, instigator of the “Occupied Territories” Bill, is a supporter. – Yours, etc,
Ireland Israel Alliance,
Sir, – Michael Lynk, UN rapporteur for human rights in Palestine, is eager for the Occupied Territories Bill to be passed in Ireland. How does he keep a straight face when his office is based in London, Ontario? Is Canada not an “occupied territory” whose land and resources have been stolen by colonists? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Karl Martin (Letters, April 25th) documents the aggressive exploitation of resources by Turkey and China, to an allegedly “largely silent” response from Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. It is illustrative to note the authoritarian regimes against which he proposes that Ireland’s response should be benchmarked.
Mr Martin is quite right; Ireland has failed “when it comes to dealing even-handedly with international conflicts”. As a nation, we shamefully continue to allow the import of produce from Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank, even though we know very well that it is produced on stolen land, with stolen resources.
However, I cannot agree with Mr Martin’s remarkable claim that Mr Coveney is outspoken on the topic of Israel.
Last May – after a year that saw the US embassy moved to Jerusalem, and hundreds of Palestinian protesters shot dead by Israeli snipers as they protested their imprisonment at the Gaza fence – Israeli ambassador Ophir Kariv praised the Fine Gael Government’s approach to Israel and the Palestinians. The implication is clear – as successive Israeli governments complete their annexation of the West Bank, the only assistance that they need from our Government is a few more years of inaction punctuated by occasional hand-wringing.
It is indeed time for Ireland to show leadership, and to end our nation’s complicity in expansionist war crimes in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is incumbent upon Dáil Éireann to pass the Occupied Territories Bill without further delay. – Yours, etc,
BRIAN Ó ÉIGEARTAIGH