Holly Cairns TD

The EU’s trade deal with Israel should be suspended until the Israeli government complies with international law, according to Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns.

“The ambivalent response of the international community to the litany of war crimes being carried out in Gaza is shameful. The UN Security Council is toothless; the UN General Assembly is powerless; and the EU is rudderless.

“Ireland is one of only a small number of countries in the West to have condemned Israel’s multiple breaches of international law. While words of condemnation are important, they are not enough and must be followed by action.

“The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, with trade between the two amounting to more than €46 billion last year. Trade is governed by the EU Israel Association Agreement, which has an ‘essential elements’ human rights clause.

“This means that either side can unilaterally suspend the agreement in response to serious breaches of human rights. If Israel’s destruction in Gaza is not sufficient to trigger this clause, then nothing ever will be.

“The Taoiseach has said that there is a difference of opinion among EU member states when it comes to the crisis in Israel and Gaza. That may be the case. But Israel is bound by the commitments it signed up to in its EU trade agreement – and those commitments, in relation to human rights, are clear and unambiguous. They are not a matter of subjective opinion, but rather legal obligation.

“I am therefore calling on the Taoiseach to make a strong case for the suspension of the EU’s trade agreement with Israel at the next European Council meeting. Ireland must use whatever influence it has to convince other member countries to help bring an end to the massacre in Gaza.

“Israel is also a participant in Horizon Europe, where Israeli institutions can apply for funding under this €95 billion research and innovation scheme. Access to this lucrative programme should also be immediately suspended.

“In addition, the Government must enact the Illegal Israeli Settlements Divestment Bill as a matter of urgency.”

November 7, 2023

Back to all Posts