Wednesday, September 19 10:42:18
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade will today hear from Irish representatives of an international human rights observer organisation calling on the Government to ban produce from illegal Israeli settlements from the Irish market.
A high profile member of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) group is David Heap who starred in the RTE soap Fair City for ten seasons.
Mr. Heap was based in the Palestinian city of Tulkarem in the north of the West Bank for three months. The main role of EAPPI observers in the field is to monitor and report human rights violations and offer protection to Palestinians via their non-violent presence.
Spokesperson and Advocacy Co-Ordinator for the Irish branch of EAPPI, Joe O'Brien stated that, "for so long Irish governments and indeed the international community have felt powerless in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but the extraordinary thing that we can say today is that the Irish government have a real opportunity to make a ground breaking contribution to the establishment of a just peace in the region".
"The illegal settlements have long been recognised by the UN, the US and the EU as the biggest barrier to peace. Ireland can take a powerfully symbolic and moral stance on this issue by banning produce from illegal Israeli settlements from the Irish market."
Back in May the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said after a meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers that serious consideration was now being given to banning settlement produce.
EAPPI outlined a number of products on the Irish market that are produced in illegal Israeli settlements including Soda Stream products available in stores such as DID electrical and Keter plastic garden products available in DIY stores nationally and via Argos.
"Ireland is supporting illegality by allowing these products into our market. What we are proposing is not radical it is simply a measure to ensure we have no involvement in illegality. This is not an action against Israel it is an action against the illegal acts of Israel and we have as a country a moral obligation to do this," said Mr O'Brien.