Funding cuts to Palestinian aid by the United States have had a massive impact on refugee camps in the West Bank, according to the head of Trócaire's International Division.

Last year the US government announced more than $500m in cuts to Palestinian aid. 

This included roughly 350 million dollars to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Sean Farrell, who recently visited the Jenin Refugee Camp in the West Bank, said the decision has resulted in high levels of unemployment and had brutal impact on the ground. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland he said the cuts have "simply piled misery and suffering on ordinary people."

Mr Farrell said life was hard enough prior to the cuts and it was clear there was a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of them. 

He said settlements cannot continue to be condemned as illegal, while supported economically.

He called for that position to change, adding that Ireland has the potential to "lead the world, in terms of the Occupied Territories Bill."

That bill, passed by the Seanad before the Christmas break, would ban the importation of Israeli goods produced in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It is due to go before the Dáil during this term.

However, last year an Israeli government official warned that the initiative could jeopardise the possibility of future peace negotiations taking place between Israel and Palestine. 

If passed, the bill would make Ireland the first country in Europe to end trade with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Championed by Independent Senator Frances Black, the bill will be tabled in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Niall Collins.

Mr Farrell said he looked forward to the bill going to the Dáil and he hoped it would be supported.