Human rights monitors in Palestinian communities to appear at Foreign Affairs Committee

An international human rights group active in Palestinian communities will appear Thursday before the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence to discuss rising threats to a Bedouin village and to wider support programmes for Palestinian refugees.

Today’s meeting with representatives from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) begins at 10 a.m. in Committee Room 1 of Leinster House.

It can be viewed live here and on Android and Apple devices using the Houses of the Oireachtas app.

Since 2002, EAPPI has deployed observers into Palestinian towns and villages to provide community support and to monitor and document violations of international law.

Thursday’s discussion with EAPPI representatives is expected to explore two issues in detail:

  • The ramifications of an Israeli Supreme Court judgment authorising the imminent involuntary relocation of Bedouins from the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar.
  • The United States’ decision last month to withdraw funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The agency, known as UNRWA, provides employment, education, health care and social services to Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“The U.S. decision to stop supporting UNRWA undermines essential supports for millions of Palestinians who rely on the United Nations’ many life-saving and life-changing programmes, from hospitals to schools,” said Committee Chairman Brendan Smith TD.

“Hopes of achieving a two-state solution rest, in part, on maintaining acceptable international levels of humanitarian support for the Palestinian people,” Deputy Smith said. “Representatives of EAPPI can offer valuable witness to how the lack of adequate funding for UNRWA programmes threatens the welfare of Palestinian communities. Committee members also seek an update on the latest situation as Israeli authorities appear poised to demolish the community of Khan al-Ahmar east of Jerusalem.”