Arms Embargo Bill to restrict transfer of munitions of war, weapons and dangerous dual-use goods to Israel

Arms Embargo Bill
Arms Embargo Bill

In light of Ireland’s recent recognition of the State of Palestine, the Seanad Civil Engagement group is calling for tangible actions to curb the flow of arms being used in the relentless assault against the people of Gaza. On Wednesday 29 May, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane, Frances Black and Eileen Flynn will be bringing a Bill to the Seanad that seeks to ensure that munitions of war, weapons and dangerous goods are not being transferred to Israel through Ireland, either directly or indirectly.

While the carriage of munitions of war, weapons and dangerous goods is prohibited on any civil aircraft in Irish territory or through our airspace, exemptions can be, and frequently are, granted by the Minister for Transport. The Minister granted 1000 exemptions in 2023 with no record of inspections of any aircraft. The Air Navigation and Transport (Arms Embargo) Bill 2024 would outlaw exemptions where flights are transferring these munitions, weapons and dual-use goods either directly to Israel or to countries that export arms to Israel. It would also require the Minister to inspect these flights.

 Senator Frances Black says: “I urge the Government to support this legislation. Our motion, which unanimously passed the Seanad in February, called for an arms embargo. This is emergency legislation for a reason – each day weapons flow to Israel means more death and destruction in Gaza.”

 The US and Germany received the vast majority of exemptions for the carriage of munitions of war, weapons and dangerous goods through the State in 2023, the two largest exporters of arms to Israel. Since October 2023, 215 exemptions for the carriage of munitions of war have been granted to flights originating in and destined for Germany. Last year, arms exports from Germany to Israel increased tenfold, from €32 million in 2022 to €326.5 million in 2023. The US has authorised military aid packages of at least $17 billion to Israel since November 2023.

 Senator Alice-Mary Higgins says: “As a neutral country and one with a strong record on disarmament, Ireland should not play any role in the global arms trade, particularly at a time when the International Court of Justice have noted the risk of genocide in Gaza and the UN Human Rights Council has called for an arms embargo. Weapons kill, munitions kill and dual use goods can also kill and we must not risk any complicity with the targeting of some of the most vulnerable people on earth.”

Courts in The Netherlands have ordered the Dutch Government to stop exporting fight jet parts to Israel and Spain. Italy and Canada have all suspended ammunition deliveries.

 Senator Lynn Ruane says: “The Minister can and must do everything within his power to ensure the children of Gaza are protected from weaponry that is aimed at obliviating them and the futures, lineage and truth they hold. It’s not only what is required of us morally, but so too our obligation under international law.”

 This emergency legislation is an opportunity for Ireland to show that we take our obligations under international law seriously. Given that the US and Germany are responsible for 99% of Israeli weapon imports and receive the majority of exemptions, we can assume they are transporting weapons, munitions or the kinds of dangerous dual use goods through the State that may be used by Israel to build its machinery of war. We cannot turn a blind eye to this. We must inspect the flights that are granted exemptions. It is only with this oversight we can ensure we are not complicit in the transfer of military materials to Israel that are being used to maim and kill thousands of innocent civilians in Gaza.

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