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Irish parliament denounces Israeli policies in West Bank

LONDON (AP) — Ireland’s parliament has passed a motion describing Israeli settlements and other policies in the occupied West Bank as “de facto annexation’’ - some of the strongest language ever offered by a European Union nation on the issue.

The motion passed Wednesday by the Dail, the lower house of Ireland’s parliament, condemned the “recent and ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian territory.” Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the motion conveys Ireland's concern that Israel’s actions are undermining prospects for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“We need to speak the truth,’’ Coveney tweeted Thursday. “The scale, pace & strategic nature of Israel’s actions on settlements, demolitions & evictions is de facto annexation.’’

Israel's Foreign Ministry rejected what it described as Ireland’s “outrageous and baseless” position on Israeli settlements. It said the parliamentary motion “constitutes a victory for extremist Palestinian factions."

Irish lawmakers approved the motion less than a week after Israel and the militant Hamas group ruling Gaza agreed to an informal cease-fire ending an 11-day war that left more than 250 people dead — the vast majority Palestinians.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in a 1967 war, territories the Palestinians want for a future state. It withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but has consolidated its control over the West Bank, now home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers.

The Palestinians view the settlements as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace, a position with wide international support. There have been no substantive peace talks in more than a decade, leading the Palestinians...

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