TDs John Brady and Richard Boyd Barrett both described Israel as using South African apartheid techniques, they said in a foreign affairs committee today.
he committee was discussing the displacements and demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territory following recent conflict in the area.
According to Gaza’s ministry of health, the overall death toll since the latest offensive began stood at at more than 80, including 18 children, with nearly 400 people wounded. Six people have been killed on the Israeli side by rocket fire.
Sinn Féin’s Mr Brady said that he offered his sympathies to everyone that has lost their life, and described the bombing in the Gaza strip as “collective punishment”.
“I’ve studied the maps of Palestine, and I’m sure everybody has looked at the map of 1967, and it shows a continuous West Bank,” he said.
“What’s left now after the illegal settlements and the annexation is a series of Bantustans, which look like South African ones. And we know the apartheid system that was in place in South Africa. So I ask the question as to whether the apartheid system in South Africa is the model in which Israel is using the blueprint at this point?”
A Bantustan was a territory in South Africa set aside for black inhabitants during the apartheid period. People Before Profit TD Mr Boyd Barrett made similar comparisons to the racially segregated state.
“Between 1947 and 1948, 700,000-900,000 Palestinians – innocent people – were driven from their homes in less than a year,” he said.
“Unless you actually confer equality in the laws – in the basic laws of the state – whether you call it Israel or Palestine, then it is fact that your state is an apartheid state.
“It is a fact that it confers rights and privileges on one group because of their religion and nationality which you deny to others. If I’m wrong, tell us now that Palestinians will have a right to return to their homes and villages, and that they will have equality.”
The Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv, also attended the committee meeting, and said he was unsure what some of the contributors were trying to achieve.
“We are willing to go all the way, or to go to a very far extent also in order to reach a sustainable future and final agreement with the Palestinians. That will enable both peoples to live in safety, to live in security, and at the same time fulfill their real wishes and their desires,” he said.
“This is not easy to achieve. And I think some of the contributors heard here today by committee members can work constructively towards this end. On the other hand, we had some – I’m sorry for the wording – but spats of hate, which I do not know where they are going. What they need to achieve. What they aspire to achieve.”
Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter also criticised some of the speakers, saying: “I’ve listened very carefully to the contributions, particularly what I would describe as the toxic contributions from Deputy John Brady, Deputy Boyd Barrett. Which are regrettable, have nothing positive to contribute to peaceful resolution, will do nothing to benefit the welfare of Palestinians or to end conflict.”
“Deputy Brady regularly produces the type of commentary I heard this morning in the toxic tweets he engages in.”