Ireland follows UK in opposing Israel sanctions

June 23, 2010 10:21 pm 

LONDON, June 23 -– The Irish government has fallen in line with Britain in opposing sanctions against Israel despite initially taking a much more critical stance to the killing of humanitarian aid activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Ireland’s Foreign Minister Martin similarly claimed that trade sanctions would be futile and counter-productive, when questioned by the Joint Committee on European Affairs in parliament about suspending the EU’s Association Agreement on Tuesday.

“No Irish government has supported a policy of boycotts or sanctions against Israel, and it is absolutely clear that there would be no possibility whatever of obtaining agreement at EU level for such a ban,” Martin said.

Like the British government, he claimed that Ireland’s influence in Israel would be lessened by a policy of bans and boycotts, which has been supported by several MPs, trade unions and peace campaigners.

The Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) hosted a public debate in Dublin on Tuesday night on the effects of international Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, with the support of MPs from three political parties.

On Friday, the IAWM is also mounting another blockade of the Israel Embassy, calling for the end of the three-year siege of Gaza, for Ireland to cut its relations with Israel and for the imposition of sanctions.

When questioned about his own record on the Middle East, Martin told the parliamentary committee that he had been “very active, as has the Irish Government over a long period, in speaking frankly and directly to Israel, including strong criticism of many of their policies.”

“In doing so, a critical part of the audience I am trying to reach – perhaps the most important part – is public opinion and opinion formers within Israel itself,” he said.

“We are trying to persuade Israel to change its policies. It is important for us in doing so to show Israelis that we are open to good relations with them, that we are not inherently hostile or negative, that we genuinely believe we have their best interests at heart.”

Giving evidence, Palestinian delegate general Dr Hikmat Ajjuri said he hoped the committee would decide that Israel was “in grave breach” of article 2 of the Euro-Med Agreement with the European Union.

“The indiscriminate nature of the Israeli offensive on Gaza and the great losses prove that the real targets of the Israelis are not ‘extremists’ or their weapons but the will and the resolve of all the Palestinians, in the hope of imposing a unilateral humiliating settlement on them,” Ajjuri said.

“I believe that these Israeli practices are not at all a reflection of Jewish values but of the Zionist strategy of ethnic cleansing of Palestine since 1948,” he told MPs. Ajjuri doubted that bilateral negotiations would ever produce peace and security “unless determined international pressure is exerted on Israel”.

The committee also questioned Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Zion Evrony, who claimed that the Zionist regime was “fighting Europe's war against global terrorism" in Gaza. (PNA/IRNA)

DCT/rsm

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