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Coveney condemns Israel’s Palestinian settlements

31/08/2016 Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney TD arrives for a cabinet meeting at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said Ireland supports the EU’s position of condemning Israel’s policy of building settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The EU issued a statement on the matter just hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington does not considers them to be illegal.

“The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law,” said  EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

The Israeli settlement policy “erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” she added.

“The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power.”

The international community considers the settlements illegal, based in part on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids occupying powers from transferring parts of their own civilian population to an occupied territory.

In a tweet, Coveney said: “Ireland strongly continues to support the agreed EU position on Israeli settlement policy. Expansion of settlements in occupied territory is illegal under international law.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the country’s change in position on Monday 18 November, saying the US would underturn a decades-long position that settlements in the occupied West Bank violate international law.

That statement puts the US at odds with the EU and virtually all countries and UN Security Council resolutions.

Some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in occupied Palestinian territories which are claimed by the latter for their state.

Israel has never annexed the West Bank, even as it has dotted the territory with scores of settlements and tiny settlement outposts.

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