Sadaka Statement on Dáil Motion on Annexation 27 May 2021

Historic Dáil Motion recognises Israel’s de facto annexation of Palestinian lands.


The Dáil motion passed last night (26 May 2021), which declared that Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank is the unlawful de facto annexation of Palestinian land, is the first such statement by a European parliament.

The motion was the result of months of work by civil society groups (Sadaka, Christian Aid, ICTU, Trócaire as well as Independent Senator Frances Black) and the political parties, to agree the content. While all parties (Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Labour Party, Social Democrats, People Before Profit and the range of Independent Groupings) supported the motion which passed with the full support of all the House.

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs John Brady TD who has been working on development of the motion for a long number of months also led out on its introduction having committed to providing crucial Dáil time in the early stages of its development

The work of Deputy Brady was also highly significant in building support for the motion particularly as negotiations on wording which would ensure cross party support intensified in the latter stages.

Simon Coveney TD and Minister for Foreign Affairs is to be strongly commended for his leadership in being the first Foreign Minister in an EU Parliament to call out Israel’s actions for what they are. His words were strong, decisive and unambiguous on the root causes of the problem.

While ultimately it took a coming together of all the political parties to agree the motion and pass it unanimously, events outside of Ireland also played an important part. Events in Sheikh Jarrah (East Jerusalem) and in Gaza focused the attention of the world on the crisis, particularly the ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel, evictions and home demolitions, and the blockade of Gaza.

The failure of both the UN Security Council and the EU to address the root causes, or even make meaningful statements on it, meant that Minister Coveney saw that supporting a motion recognising de facto annexation was simply stating the obvious and introducing some truth into a topic which for decades has been shrouded in the language of “both sides” and of words with no consequences. This was crucial in securing Government support for the motion.

As John Brady TD said in the debate: “The law-breaker must not benefit from the crime”. This cuts to the heart of the matter as Israel is in decades-long breach of international humanitarian law, human rights law, and countless UN Security Council resolutions. The settlement programme is, he said, “the engine that has driven annexation”.

According to Minister Coveney, “the scale, pace and strategic nature of Israel’s actions on settlement expansion and the intent behind them have brought us to a point where we need to be honest about what is happening on the ground. We need to call it out for what it is. It is de facto annexation”.

So, why is this ground-breaking move by Dáil Éireann, which clearly represents the views of the Irish people, so important and generating such a huge amount of attention?

Both de jure and de facto annexation of territory taken in war are illegal under international law. In fact, breaching this principle is one of the most egregious acts by a State against the rules-based system.

During the Summer of 2020 Israel threatened to announce the de jure annexation of much of the West Bank but retreated from this step because of the threat of international sanctions. Acquisitive States, like Israel, that wish to annex territory, have a strong incentive to hide the reality of their plans while they create irreversible facts on the ground in support of an ultimate claim of sovereignty. The absolute prohibition on annexation extends to these incremental actions by Israel.

This motion not only identifies and calls out Israel’s actions as unlawful de facto annexation, but also calls out the international community’s abject failure over decades to get justice for the Palestinian people, who are a protected people under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

We fully expect that other parliaments will now follow Ireland’s lead and adopt measures against Israel and which will enable the Palestinian people as a whole to fulfil their right to self-determination.

Marie Crawley
Chair, Sadaka - the Ireland Palestine Alliance.
27 May 2021.

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