Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Matt Carthy TD, has called on the Irish government to take meaningful measures to put international pressure on Israel to end their illegal actions in Palestine.
Speaking during Dáil statements on the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territory, Deputy Carthy said that Ireland should take “real, tangible measures that shows the world, and most importantly the children of Jenin, that we want no hand, act nor part in the systematic destruction of the Palestinian people”.
Welcoming the cross-border unity in the condemnation of Israeli actions, Deputy Carthy criticised the government for frustrating the ‘Illegal Israeli Settlements Divestment Bill’ and for not officially recognising the state of Palestine.
He said that “it is simply not conceivable to tell another generation of Palestinian children that they must wait. It is time for the world to act – it is time for Ireland to lead the way”.
The full text of Deputy Carthy’s remarks:
“The refugee Camp at Jenin in the West Bank is a perfect, albeit tragic, symbol of Israel’s brutal occupation and aggression against the Palestinian people.
“Imagine a child of Palestine, in 1948. This child was one of 700,000 Palestinian children, women and men that were forcefully removed from their home during the Nakba. This child lost everything, their home, their security, their future, their homeland.
“Being forced into a refugee camp – they waited for the world to act – it didn’t.
“That first refugee camp was destroyed in a snowstorm. So it was that this child was forced again to move; to what became known as the Jenin Refugee camp. Again, the child hoped that the world would act to allow them to return home. The world didn’t act.
“This child grew up in that refugee camp. Depending on charity when all they wanted was to go back to where they came from.
“Imagine that child had a child. The child’s child was born just 52 miles, as the crow flies, from the birthplace of Jesus Christ. That child was born in time for the Israeli invasion of the West Bank, including Jenin. The child and their child again lived under Israeli occupation.
“Another Palestinian generation was to live through that occupation, discrimination and the denial of the most fundamental of human rights. The child and their child, wanting to return home, waited for the world to act – it didn’t.
“Imagine the child’s child had their own child born at the time of the Intifada and the ongoing Israeli raids that left three generations living in constant fear.
“They watched as their camp was subjected to Israeli attack after Israeli attack, as vital utilities were destroyed on a systemic basis. They were subject to collective punishment and persistent breaches of international law.
“In 1993 and 1995 they witnessed the signing of the Oslo Accords, and they hoped against hope that the world was finally acting – it wasn’t.
“Because, from Day 1, Israel breached the condition of the accords that transferred control and administration of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority.
“And the hope was finally shattered in April 2002 when Israel launched what it called Operation Defensive Shield. 400 homes were destroyed, and hundreds more were severely damaged. Estimates suggested that 500 people were killed by Israeli forces. A UN envoy compared the camp to an earthquake zone. The BBC reported that ten percent of the camp was ‘virtually rubbed out by a dozen armored Israeli bulldozers’.
“The child and their child, and their child, waited for the world to act – it didn’t.
“And imagine somewhere along the line yet another child was born. The child of the child, of the child, of the child that was forced out of their home during the Nakba. The Nakba became a daily, lived, horrendous reality of each generation.
“Israeli invasions virtually on an annual basis. Ostensibly raids targeting Palestinian militants – but every single objective observer that has reported on the instances has described indiscriminate, collective punishment operations that serve to destroy lives, destroy homes, destroy hope.
“And, the child of 2023, just like the child of the 1990’s and the child of the 1960’s and the child of 1948 – waited and waited and waited for the world to act – it didn’t.
“Not when other children were killed in Israeli attacks.
“Not when services, often funded by the international community, were destroyed.
“Not even when, in May 2022, Israeli forces murdered the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was simply doing her job in telling the truth of what was occurring in Jenin Refugee camp.
“The world didn’t say stop. The world, the international community, turned away.
“And, because the world didn’t say stop – Israel didn’t stop.
“Another child of Palestine, another generation of Jenin, were abandoned to Israeli occupation and apartheid.
“And, imagine what it must be like for the child of 1948 and their child and their child and their child when on 3rd July in 2023 – Israeli forces again invaded the refugee camp.
“When the estimated population of 14,000 refugees were again terrorised. When, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 3,000 of those people had to be evacuated; when, according to Médecins Sans Frontières, Israeli military bulldozers had destroyed multiple roads into the camp, “making it nearly impossible for ambulances to reach patients”; when Palestinian paramedics had been ‘forced to proceed on foot, in an area with active gunfire and drone strikes’, and when Israeli forces fired tear gas into Khalil Suleiman Government Hospital. When at least 12 people were killed, including 5 children; when over 100 seriously injured, when 20 of them were in a critical condition.
“Imagine for one minute what hope remains for that child of 2023. What does their parent of the 1990s tell them, what would their parent of the 1960s tell them, what lesson could they take from the lived experience of their parent that was forced from the place they should all call home in 1948.
“That the world would finally act? Most likely, not.
“But, here today, I want to send a message to the Palestinian child of 2023. To today’s children of Jenin.
“That message is a crystal clear one that the people of Ireland stand with you. We stand against the aggression, the annexation, the occupation and the apartheid that defines your existence.
“But the words of our message must be met with actions. The world must finally respond appropriately to Israeli war crimes.
“We know others will refuse to do so. So, Ireland must lead the way.
“We must lead the way with our words, which this house is generally united upon. But, we must also lead the way with real, tangible measures that shows the world, and most importantly the children of Jenin, that we want no hand, act nor part in the systematic destruction of the Palestinian people.
“We should, of course, seek to build consensus and support from others, particularly within the EU. But, we should also be very clear – it they won’t move, we will.
“As a starting point, government must immediately move to progress the Illegal Israeli Settlements Divestment Bill 2023 introduced by Sinn Féin TD John Brady. The bill simply prevents Irish taxpayers’ money being invested in companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation and settlement expansion.
“It is actually shameful that our monies have been invested in such companies in the first place. But it is inexcusable that government have sought to frustrate and delay the Sinn Féin bill.
“‘Wait nine months’ says the government. Just as every child of Palestine since the Nakba of 1948 have been told to wait.
“Likewise, when it comes to recognising the state of Palestine, the official position of this house. ‘Wait’, says the government.
“For the Palestinians it is always a waiting game.
“Meanwhile, our government complies with EU accelerated procedures when it suits Israel.
“Israel actually enjoys what is officially called ‘a preferential trading relationship’ with the European Union, this is worth billions of euro in trade to a state that ignores, disregards and breaches UN resolutions and international laws every single day.
“Why don’t we tell Israel to wait.
“To wait until they comply with international law, to wait until they end their occupation, their annexation, their expansion of illegal settlements and their ongoing, brutal apartheid of the Palestinian people.
“To wait until they engage constructively with their Palestinian neighbours and reach a peace settlement that upholds the rights of the Palestinian people to their dignity, to their human rights, to their own state – free from apartheid, free from occupation, free of military aggression.
“Because, it is simply not conceivable to tell another generation of Palestinian children that they must wait.
“It is time to act – it is time for Ireland to lead the way.”