Govt warning over investing in Israeli settlements

Thursday 03 July 2014 16.49
Israeli forces spray sewage from a military vehicle during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinian protesters at a section of the separation barrier to the main entrance of the West Bank city of Bethlehem
Israeli forces spray sewage from a military vehicle during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinian protesters at a section of the separation barrier to the main entrance of the West Bank city of Bethlehem

The Government has advised Irish citizens against investing or doing any business with firms in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, the West Bank and Gaza.

The advice also applies to Syria’s Golan heights, which Israel also captured in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The move is in line with many other EU countries and the advice has recently been issued by the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands and Portugal.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Ireland and its EU Partners have a clear position on Israeli settlements.

It said: “The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967.

“Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.

“The EU and its Member States will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

It goes on to say that financial transactions, investments, purchases, as other economic activities, including tourism, in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements carry legal and economic risks.

This stems from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel's territory.

The department said potential buyers and investors should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase or economic activities they promote in these settlements.

In case of disputes, the department says it could be very difficult to ensure national protection of their interests.

Israel captured the occupied Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War.

An estimated 300,000 Palestinians were displaced from the West Bank and Gaza as a result of the war.

Settlements are viewed as illegal by the international community and many view Israel’s building of settlements as a means of colonising the land it has captured.

Israel has already de-facto annexed part of its 1967 gains: the Golan Heights  and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital.

Neither move has been recognised internationally.

Construction of new Jewish homes in the West Bank rose 123% year-on-year in 2013.

This surge coincided with peace talks that faltered earlier this year.

Successive Israeli governments have said the blocs, illegal under international law, should remain part of Israel in any negotiated deal with the Palestinians.

However, the Geneva Convention states "the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".