UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Irish MPs condemn Israel without considering evidence

Irish MPs ask questions about Israel, receive answers, then condemn Israel without apparently taking the answers into account.

The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence of the Irish Parliament decided to hold a series of meetings “to examine demolitions and the forced displacement of people in the occupied Palestinian territory”.

As well as numerous people hostile to Israel, they invited the Israeli Ambassador, Ireland Israel Alliance, UKLFI Charitable Trust, former Minister Alan Shatter and the International Legal Forum (ILF) to give evidence.

According to guidance on the Irish Parliament’s website “Committees are committed to proceeding in a manner that fosters and maintains public confidence in their objectivity and fairness.”

UKLFI Charitable Trust was represented by its legal director, Natasha Hausdorff. She made an oral statement to the Committee and addressed some of the many points raised by members of the Committee at a hearing on 13 May 2021 (video here, transcript here).

At the end of the hearing, the Chair of the Committee invited the guests to provide written answers to the remaining questions which they did not have time to cover at the hearing. Natasha was subsequently informed by the Committee’s Clerk that these should be provided by 21 May 2021.

At 11.15am on 21 May 2021 Natasha duly provided to the Committee’s Clerk written answers to 25 questions asked by members of the Committee at the hearing, 10 of them by Sinn Féin Deputy, John Brady.  The Clerk promptly acknowledged receipt, stating that the responses and information would be brought to the attention of the members of the Committee.

Oral evidence was also given on 13 May 2021 by Israeli Ambassador, HE Ophir Kariv; Ireland Israel Alliance Director, Jackie Goodall; and Alan Shatter.

An important written submission, directly addressing the issues of demolitions and alleged displacement, was made by Arsen Ostrovsky and Russell Shalev on behalf of ILF on 21 May 2021.

Without waiting for the Committee’s report, Deputy Brady moved a lengthy motion in the Dáil (directly elected House of the Irish parliament) on 25 May 2021. Much of this motion related to the issues addressed in the evidence provided to the Committee as mentioned above, but did not appear to take any of this evidence into account. The motion was passed with a government amendment by agreement and without a vote on 26 May 2021.

The conduct of Deputy Brady, and indeed of the whole Dáil, seems difficult to reconcile with the commitment expressed in the Irish Parliament’s guidance.