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Occupied Territories Bill 2020

Statement on the Programme for Government – Tuesday 16th June 2020

The announcement of a Programme for Government yesterday was a significant moment for the country, setting a potential direction for the next five years. While the focus is rightly on domestic challenges, it also sets out how we might engage with the wider world. I’m glad that Irish people remain committed internationalists, who recognise that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’, and that my work on Palestine and the Occupied Territories Bill in particular featured so heavily in negotiations. It’s testament to the huge level of public interest and support, built by communities and campaigners over decades.

Based on discussions I’ve had over the past days, there can be a reluctance to take bold stances or to rock the boat internationally – I’m aware of EU level discussions and upcoming key UN votes in particular. While the penultimate draft PfG specifically listed the Occupied Territories Bill, the final document included a commitment to ensure respect for international law, a move to ‘a more proactive approach’, and ‘national level’ measures to oppose annexation and illegal settlement expansion.

To say such measures are badly needed is an understatement. After decades of empty condemnation, the new Israeli Government has pledged to annex large parts of the West Bank as early as July – a move that would, in the words of 47 UN Special Rapporteurs issued just this morning, “be the crystallisation” of “a vision of a 21st century apartheid”.

I’m assured that party leaders take this seriously, and crucially take past commitments and key party pledges seriously. We face a pivotal moment internationally on one of the defining human rights issues of our time, and both the public and party members expect leaders to deliver. I’m looking forward to bringing the Occupied Territories Bill forward in this coming Dáil term and holding them to those commitments.


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