The international community watches in horror at the ongoing Israeli atrocities, the bombing of Gaza, evictions in Jerusalem, street violence and arrests. But, while many national leaders are quick to condemn the actions, they are slow to move beyond the rhetoric. Worse still, the US continues to defend Israeli action and has used its veto in the UN Security Council to block any condemnation of Israel. Here in Ireland, politicians from all political persuasions have spoken out in condemnation of the violence and many have made very strong statements of condemnation of the underlying causes of the current crisis.
But now is the time for action. It is clear from the public reaction that people in Ireland want to see concrete measures such as the implementation of legislation which sends a clear message to the state of Israel that it can no longer act with impunity. Below, we list some actions which we ask you to present to your local representatives. It is urgent that we act now, so please take time to write or call them as you have done so many times before. First, let us give you some links and information on recent developments.
The UN Security Council has not shown leadership in the international community in condemnation of the bombing of Gaza. However, as Ireland’s representative on the Council, Minister Coveney spoke passionately and at length. His speech was strong and unequivocally supportive of the Palestinian people. He called for the Council to issue a “clear and united message”… “We have waited too long” … to find a “political resolution”. He was emphatic that “we cannot return to business as usual”. You can find his speech and other presentations from the United Nations Security Council emergency meeting on 16th May here.
The response by the United States is deeply disappointing. President Biden has failed to criticize the continuous bombing of Gaza, indeed he has repeatedly stressed Israel’s right to defend itself and is using the right of veto at the United Nations Security Council to prevent a declaration of condemnation. You can read more about that here. This position has been strongly questioned by many inside the Democratic party, who see what is happening in Israel and Palestine as nothing less than flagrant violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.
Closer to home, the EU has called “for an immediate end to the ongoing violence”. But once again they have failed to attribute responsibility or to take any decisive action which might contribute to finding a meaningful solution. What is lacking is the political will to act. This is again a forum where Ireland ought to speak out and call for collective action. Minister Coveney has called for “responsible leadership” and “collective responsibility”. We must lobby our representatives to turn these words into action.
Within the Global Trade Union Movement there is been a call for the cessation of violence from the International Trade union Confederation (ITUC). https://www.ituc-csi.org/violence-in-israel-and-palestine . The ITUC has recently released a publication on the situation of workers in Israel and the settlements https://www.ituc-csi.org/new-ituc-report-on-palestinian-workers . This week the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the eve of its annual conference has published its annual report on “The situation of workers in the occupied Arab Territories”, https://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/109/reports/reports-to-the-conference/WCMS_745966/lang–en/index.htm
The Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) issued on the 19th May 2021 a strong statement on the situation in the Middle East https://www.ictu.ie/press/2021/05/19/palestinians-face-persecution-and-denial-of-human/
It is time for Ireland to take real action
On Monday 17th May there were two important debates in both Dáil and Seanad, in which a significant number of TDs and Senators from all parties spoke passionately in condemnation of the bombing of Gaza. You may want to view the debates before approaching your local TDs. Go to the Oireachtas website and search for the debates. Importantly, there are long interventions by Minister Coveney, expressing strong sentiments of support for Palestine, but so far promising nothing more than strong words of condemnation. Our collective actions can help change that.
On Friday 21st May, Patricia King, Congress General Secretary and Congress President, Gerry Murphy will meet with Minister Simon Coveney along with Sadaka Chair Marie Crawley , Caoimhe de Barra, CEO Trócaire and Rosamund Bennett CEO Christian Aid; and Susan Power (Head of Legal Advocacy and Research, Al Haq).
This meeting is coming at a crucial time when the international community needs to intervene with decisive and meaningful actions – not words.
Call for Action
Here in Ireland ICTU and other organisations such as Trocaire, Sadaka, IPSC, Christian Aid and Trade Union Friends of Palestine (TUFP) have been actively campaigning and there have been widespread public actions in support of the Palestinian people. Trade Union members are encouraged to support the actions of these organisations and solidarity groups.
On 11th May a delegation including SADAKA and the Ambassador of Palestine to Ireland delivered a powerful message to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on annexation. The objective was that the Oireachtas immediately pass a cross party motion which recognises de facto annexation – the root cause of Israel’s current actions in Jerusalem – and consequently Gaza. You can watch the debate here We would also recommend that you access the Factsheet prepared for that meeting which you will find on the SADAKA website.
While the eyes of the world are watching, this is the time to put pressure on our public representatives to advance some specific actions. It is clear from the many public representatives who spoke yesterday in the Dáil and Seanad that many of them would welcome your calls for positive action. We would ask you to contact your local TDs as soon as possible and request the following:
- An immediate end to the violence and collective punishment of innocent civilians, and the free and safe access of humanitarian actors to those in need. This should include advance meaningful options at the UNSC to protect Palestinian lives such as the creation of safe zones and humanitarian corridors or by establishing a UN peace-keeping presence.
- A cross party motion recognising the de facto annexation of Palestine will be tabled in the coming weeks. The issue of annexation is key to the recent events in Jerusalem. Annexation is essentially concerned with the forced expulsion of Palestinian families to make way for illegal settlements.
- Enact the Occupied Territories Bill introduced by Senator Frances Black and supported by ICTU, SADAKA, Christian Aid and Trocaire, which has just two legislative stages to go.
- Advocate for an independent investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold those committing crimes against humanity to account.
- Formally recognising the State of Palestine and ending the blockade of Gaza to allow for the free movement of goods and people.