The Tánaiste has condemned Israeli plans to construct over 1,100 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli Government approved the construction on Thursday.
A further 2,500 settlement units are in the advanced planning stage, with authorities publishing tenders for 800 of them yesterday.
In a statement this evening, the Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the announcements undermine “efforts by friends of Israel and of the Palestinians to support a meaningful peace process in the Middle East.”
He said peace talks are the “only way to achieve an independent Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.”
“The construction of settlements in occupied territory is unquestionably illegal under international law.
“It undermines the viability of the two-state solution, and does not contribute to increasing Israel’s own security.”
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is viewed as illegal under international law and the UN Security Council regards the country as an occupying power.
The country captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and has since built dozens of settlements there.
Following the announcement of the new settlements, the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now accused the Israeli Government of “trying to destroy the possibility of a two-state solution and the prospect of peace by building more and more in the settlements.”
“This agenda runs counter to Israel's national interest, as well as the interests of everyone who seeks a peaceful future in the region," the group said.
New from @PeaceNowIL: The government is attempting to destroy the possibility of a two-state solution. This agenda runs counter to Israel’s national interest, as well as the interests of everyone who seeks a peaceful future in the region. https://t.co/qXcnapQIpZ
— Peace Now (@peacenowisrael) January 11, 2018
Mr Coveney’s comments come following his meetings with both the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this week.
The Tánaiste described his meeting with Mr Netanyahu as “frank” adding that he believed both men “found the discussion helpful and stimulating.”
“Helping to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict in the Middle East has been a priority for me since I took office,” he said.
“This issue is of deep interest to many people in Ireland, and in the course of our conversation I told the Prime Minister that I believe it is counterproductive to exclude from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory groups which have a deep interest in this situation.
"This does not help to build a better mutual understanding.”
Last weekend Israel published a list of 20 organisations that would be banned from entering the country as a result of their support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The movement advocates for a boycott of Israel and Israeli goods over its treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories.
The list includes the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Movement:
Here is the list of #BDS organizations that will from now on be banned from entering Israel.
Don't expect being welcomed anymore to a country you try to isolate and defame.
You boycott us, we boycott you.
— Emmanuel Navon (@emmanuelnavon) January 7, 2018
Minister Coveney said he used his meeting with President Abbas to reaffirm Ireland’s commitment and support for the two-state solution, “which I believe offers the only prospect for a peaceful and secure future for both Israel and Palestine.”
Had long and good meeting with @president_abbas this evening. Ireland continues to support Palestinian Govt with financial aid and partnerships but we are also working to promote a politically negotiated peace settlement between Israelis + Palestinians based on a 2 state solution pic.twitter.com/UO1zyM3zxm
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) January 10, 2018
He said he also invited President Abbas to visit Ireland, and assured him that he would receive a warm welcome from the Irish people.
He also announced an immediate increase of €200,000 in funding for Palestinian students seeking third level and professional training opportunities in Ireland