October 19, 2023
Israel must stop the blockade, the apartheid, the annexation and the genocide – Matt Carthy TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has said that Israel must stop the blockade, the apartheid, the annexation and the genocide.

Speaking in the Dáil during statements on the situation in the Middle East and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Teachta Carthy added that the repeated statements by world leaders that “Israel has the right to defend itself” has now become cover for Israel to committing genocide right in front of our eyes.

Matt Carthy’s full contribution can be read below:

Let us be very clear. Hamas breached international law on 7 October. It targeted innocent civilians in the most callous and inhumane manner and its actions have been rightly condemned by right-thinking people around the world. We should also be very clear, however, that Israel has breached international law, not just every day since 7 October, but virtually every single day for decades. Israel occupies Palestinian land, blockades Palestinian territory, builds and expands illegal settlements, enforces an apartheid system that restricts the movements of Palestinians and denies their fundamental rights, and regularly and systematically attacks and kills Palestinian civilians, all against international law.

The question that must be answered by all of us in political life is this. How does the world respond to flagrant abuses of international law? When it comes to the horrendous war crimes of Hamas, the response was very clear and consistent. World leaders queued up to say “Israel has the right to defend itself”. One after another the great and the good, including our Government, repeated the words, “Israel has the right to defend itself”. That was repeated in statement after statement and tweet after tweet, despite the full knowledge that those words have become contaminated. The words “Israel has the right to defend itself” mean in practice that Israel takes that right as licence to bombard civilians and to bomb schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure. It has now been taken as licence to enforce the displacement of one million people from one end of an open-air prison to another, to deny food, energy and medical supplies to a besieged civilian population and to deny them water to ensure that children, and the sick, disabled and elderly, will literally die of thirst. “Israel has the right to defend itself” has now become cover for Israel having the right to commit genocide right in front of our eyes.

How come we never hear the words “Palestine has the right to defend itself”? We did not hear that when a humanitarian flotilla bringing essential supplies to Gaza was met with a military assault and the murder by Israel of nine unarmed activists, or when Palestinians marched in peaceful protest against an illegal blockade and were again met with a military assault and the murder of 300 of them, or after the countless bombings of Gaza by Israeli forces. We do not hear that even when Israel targeted and murdered four little Palestinian boys playing football on a beach or when Palestinians were dragged from their homes and forced to watch as those homes were destroyed to allow for new illegal Israeli settlements on lands that are clearly defined in international law as part of Palestine. Not after the countless offensive attacks by Israel against the people of Gaza or the West Bank have we heard anybody in this House or any western leader utter the words, “Palestine has the right to defend itself”. Why not?

I am not asking the Tánaiste to say those words. In fact, it is just as well he does not because we all know that the people of Palestine cannot defend themselves against one of the most powerful military forces in the world that is backed up by even more powerful military forces. The truth is the people of Palestine, just like the innocent people of Israel, do not need the international community to tell them that their leaders have the right to inflict more bombings, pain and suffering. They need the international community to say stop, to say release the hostages, and to say stop the bombings, siege and slaughter. They need the international community to tell Israel to stop the blockade, the apartheid, the annexation and the genocide. They need countries to lead the way.

Ireland should be one of those countries that leads the way. We know colonialism, oppression and conflict but we also know conflict resolution, peacebuilding and nation-building. Due to what we know, and what our history has taught us, our call must be clear: immediate, full and unequivocal ceasefires and a decisive international intervention that leads to negotiations, a lasting and just peace settlement and, at long last, to a free, sovereign and independent Palestine.

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