By Cate McCurry, PA
Ireland has become the first EU member state to declare the building of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories as de facto annexation.
A Dáil motion, tabled by Sinn Féin, was passed on Wednesday night after it received cross-party support.
It condemns the “recent and ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian territory”, and described the annexation of Palestinian territory as a violation of international law.
In a tweet after the vote, Sinn Féin leader Mary Loy McDonald said: “Illegal land grabs, annexation of Palestinian land & homes has been called out by Dail in Dublin.
“The motion tabled by @sinnfeinireland & supported by all must mark new assertive, consistent confrontation of Israeli crimes against Palestine.”
Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesman John Brady described the vote as a “historic moment”.
He tweeted: “Tonight’s passing of the @sinnfeinireland motion on the illegal annexation of Palestinian lands by Israel, is a historic moment, a victory for justice & a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
“Focus now needs to be on the consequences for Israel.”
An amendment tabled by People Before Profit, calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland and to impose sanctions against Israel, was defeated.
The People Before Profit amendment to Sinn Féin’s motion was defeated by a vote of 46 in favour and 87 against.
The amendment claimed Israel was guilty of war crimes, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and that as a result the Israeli ambassador and embassy staff should be expelled.
People Before Profit described it as a “historic moment” as it will be the first time the Dáil has voted on enforcing sanctions against Israel.
It came after the Government agreed to back the motion condemning Israel’s de facto annexation of Palestinian land.
It is the first country in the EU to recognise Israel’s illegal settlements as a de facto annexation.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the motion was a “clear signal of the depth of feeling across Ireland”.
Mr Coveney said on Tuesday the Government needed to be “honest about what is happening on the ground”, adding that it is a “de facto annexation”.
He added it was not said lightly.
Israel has fired hundreds of air strikes against targets in Gaza, while Hamas has returned more than 4,000 rockets towards Israel, with more than 250 people killed in total.
A ceasefire on Friday ended 11 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip, considered the worst violence in the region since 2014.
Dublin TD Richard Boy Barrett, one of the proposers of the amendment, said: “It is now high time that the Dail and the Irish government move from words of sympathy and support for the people of Palestine to effective action.
“The chronic repression, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and apartheid system that has brutalised the Palestinian people has to be treated like the South African apartheid regime was treated.
“There must be zero tolerance for Israel’s ongoing and systematic violation of basic human rights for Palestinians, just as there was for Apartheid South Africa.
“There is a historic opportunity for us here in Ireland, who have previously experienced oppression from an occupying power, to lead the international community in taking effective action against the Israeli regime who are inflicting untold misery and brutality on the people of Palestine.”