The Occupied Territories Bill

 

Sir, – In 1948, my grandparents were forcibly exiled from their home in the city of Lydda in Palestine as 950,000 Palestinians suffered the forced displacement and slaughter known as the Nakba. On their difficult exile to Gaza – a journey taken on foot – their eldest son went missing. I knew my uncle only through my father’s stories. My father, who is in his late 70s, always tells my children stories of his days in Palestine when we meet in Jordan every summer. This is the only place I can see my parents because I only hold identification as a citizen of Gaza, which prohibits my travel to the West Bank or East Jerusalem without Israeli permission. My father recalls the fig trees and cactus fruits that grew in their garden. My mother, who was born in Jaffa, also fled with her family to Gaza. She was young, but my grandfather kept her memories of the sea and Jaffa’s beauty alive. My grandmother’s heart was broken at the loss of her home, and she never got over it.

It was against this backdrop that, after the 1967 war, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel extended the city’s municipal boundaries, putting both East and West Jerusalem under its sovereignty, and to this day it continues to pursue its policy of stealing Palestinian land. It relies on expropriation and acquisition of land to build and expand settlements over years of occupation. More than 600,000 settlers live in over 200 colonial settlements in the West Bank.

The recent agreement between Binyamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to form a coalition government in Israel included a commitment to the annexation all of its illegal settlements which occupy large parts of the Palestinian lands. At his swearing in ceremony on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu repeated his threat to extend Israeli sovereignty over the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, calling it “another glorious chapter in the history of Zionism”.

Ireland has always advocated for human rights, and as Palestinians, we believe that it will strongly challenge this latest Israeli plan of annexation.

The enactment of the Occupied Territories Bill would ban the selling of goods produced in illegal settlements on the Irish market. This diplomatic sanction is one of those referenced by UN special rapporteur Michael Lynk, in his recent letter to your newspaper (April 29th), as a potentially important instrument in restraining illegal expansion by Israel.

With this Bill, Ireland has a unique opportunity to lead the way in challenging the long injustice of the Israeli occupation. As Palestinians, we place our hopes in other nations with a lived experience of colonialism to guide the international community on the right path and to end the decades-long displacement, exile and slaughter of our people. – Yours, etc,

Dr JILAN ABDALMAJID,

Ambassador,

Mission of the

State of Palestine, Dublin 4.