A pro-Palestine vigil in Ireland. (File photo via social media)
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Simon Coveney T.D., announced on Thursday, 19 November, that Ireland was making an additional humanitarian funding commitment of €1 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
According to DIPLOMAT news website, the move comes on the heels of Israel escalating tensions by tendering for more than 1,200 new housing units in East Jerusalem, a move the UN contends is a violation of international law. Observers believe the moves serve to further undermine the viability of a Two State Solution to which Israel had previously committed itself.
The latest Irish funding addresses both humanitarian and development needs, providing emergency assistance to the most vulnerable whilst also supporting the Palestinian Authority in public service delivery and civil society organisations in their advocacy of human rights.
Dr. Jilan Abdalmajid, the Ambassador of the Mission of the Palestinian State in Ireland, reacted with appreciation for the humanitarian generosity of the Irish people: “We are sincerely grateful for the continuing solidarity and practical assistance from Ireland to Palestine. At times of deepest need, Ireland is always one of the first to step up and offer a helping hand. The Palestinian people and our leadership highly value the longstanding and committed bilateral relations between our two countries.”
In 1980, Ireland was the first European Union member state to endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state. In January 2011, Ireland accorded the Palestinian delegation in Dublin diplomatic status. A few months later, Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Eamon Gilmore, T.D. stated Ireland would “lead the charge” in recognising Palestinian statehood, but that it would not come until the Palestinian Authoirty was in full and sole control over its territories. In October 2014, Seanad Éireann unanimously passed a motion calling on the Government to recognise the State of Palestine. Dáil Éireann adopted the same affirmative position on Palestinian Statehood in December 2014.
In the last two weeks Israel has escalated the pace of attempting to copper fasten its position of dominance over the Palestinians by increasing the rate of illegal demolition of structures in the Palestinian Territories. Large-scale home demolitions in Wadi Hummus, a neighbourhood in southeast Jerusalem, an area under the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction but controlled by Israel Defense Forces as an occupying power, left the community almost entirely destroyed. The latest demolitions were accompanied by threats to demolish 52 West Bank schools, such as the Ras al-Tin primary school near Ramallah have inflamed the conflict.
The European Union, several of its member states, including Ireland, provided humanitarian funding for the construction of the school. The Israeli military confiscated construction materials and tools on four occasions between 31 August and 10 September, including the school’s roof, desks, and chairs, under the pretext that the school lacked an Israeli-issued building permit. Israeli authorities deny as much as 98 per cent of Palestinian requests for building permits in Area C, defying Palestinians the ability to even repair if not improve, let alone build schools and basic infrastructure.
According to the Education Cluster, a forum that coordinates the humanitarian education response, Israel has partially or fully demolished three schools in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, so far this year, and 52 other schools are under threat of demolition. In 2019 alone, the Education Cluster recorded 328 education-related incidents, involving access restrictions, attacks on students and staff, and destruction of education infrastructure, affecting 19,913 students, thwarting Palestinian children’s fundamental right to receive a basic education.
Since the start of this year, the UN reported that Israel, as an occupying power, demolished 555 structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, forcibly displacing 747 people, including 382 children, and adversely affecting 2,722 others. The structures included 217 residential properties and 45 water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Donor states had provided 93 of the Israeli-destroyed or seized structures as humanitarian relief.