Press release

Greens call for EU pressure on Israel and increased UNRWA funding

13th February 2024

Ireland should increase its funding of UNRWA in light of the inhumane conditions that Israel is inflicting on innocent Palestinians there, the Green Party has said.

Some 16 countries have suspended funding for the agency which provides desperately needed relief to millions of Palestinian refugees, following Israel’s allegations that nine UNRWA staff members were involved in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.

UNRWA immediately sacked these staff members and launched an independent investigation into the allegations, although it has not yet received any evidence from Israel of its allegations. The agency’s life-saving work has been seriously undermined by a cut in funding by a series of countries such as the US, UK, Germany and Australia.

Ahead of UNRWA’s commissioner general, Philippe Lazzarini’s visit to Ireland on Thursday, Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Vincent P. Martin said increasing the financial support Ireland gives UNRWA would have a very real impact on people’s lives in Gaza.

“The scenes we are witnessing every night from Gaza are horrific. Nearly 1.5 million Gazans are now sheltering in Rafah, whose population has increased six-fold following Israel’s merciless assault on the rest of the country. It is sickening that after being ordered to shelter in the south of Gaza, that Israel is now coming to bomb this one remaining area of shelter too.

“Rafah is one of the world’s most overcrowded encampments and Israel is in flagrant breach of international law by ordering the evacuation of the civilian population. Many of these people are starving and requiring basic humanitarian assistance - they have no place else to go.

“Ireland was one of the first countries to call for a ceasefire but Israel continues to ignore this plea. While we continue to build support internationally, increasing funding for UNRWA could make a very real difference to people’s lives on the ground.”

Green Party Justice Spokesperson, Patrick Costello TD, said that Ireland has always funded the development of Palestine and should continue to do so. He added that Ireland and its EU partners should also seek compensation for the EU-funded infrastructure that Israel has destroyed, not just during its four-month bombardment of Israel, but as part of the ongoing occupation too.

The Dublin South Central TD said there must also be severe consequences for Israel’s blatant disregard of the International Court of Justice’s order that it must prevent the killing of innocent Palestinians.

Only two weeks ago, the ICJ ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent, within the scope of the genocide convention, the killing of Palestinians, causing them serious bodily or mental harm, and inflicting conditions calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Gaza.

It was also ordered to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance”.

Since that time, Israel has not only ignored the ICJ’s ruling but has stepped up its attacks on Rafah which had become a refuge for Palestinians fleeing the destruction of their homes by the Israel Defence Forces in the rest of Israel.

Deputy Costello continued;

“The EU has an association agreement with Israel – EU member states must look at using this as leverage to force Israel to pull back.

“The EU is Israel’s biggest trade partner, accounting for 28.8% of its trade in goods in 2022. Almost one third of Israel’s imports came from the EU, and just over a quarter of the country’s exports went to the EU.

“How many more innocent Palestinians must die before EU countries will put pressure on Israel to at the very least comply with the ICJ’s orders?”

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