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Synopsis: Ireland-Israel Trade and Human Rights

By 27th May 2024 May 31st, 2024 No Comments

Ireland-Israel Trade and Human Rights


Ireland’s trading relationship with Israel (in the form of dual-use and military exports and imports) has become a major focus of public and political concern following Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2023.

Uplift commissioned research examining the trade of military and dual-use exports between Ireland and Israel to highlight the extent of such trade with Israel.

Key points of the report

1. Ireland has paid Israeli arms companies like Elbit Systems and Aeronautics for military imports over the past number of years. In the case of Aeronautics Defence Industries, we have purchased military drones and it looks like we still have an active contract with them for which we pay them for support and maintenance of those drones to the tune of €295,000 every year.

2. According to European Commission estimates, dual-use exports account for approx. 1.8% of all EU27 total exports (extra-EU), which would put the value of dual-use trade at €38.5 billion in 2020, yet 13.5% of all of Ireland’s exports of goods to Israel were dual-used items.

3. Ireland has announced that it intends to intervene in the ICJ case accusing Israel of plausible genocide, yet we continue to trade with them in dual-use goods. Ireland’s national procurement processes require the government must consider the intended end-use and risk of diversion to another end-user or another end-use.

4. Ireland is bound by 8 criteria under EU procurement laws including:

  • Respect for human rights in the country of final destination as well as respect by that country of international humanitarian law.
  • Internal situation in the country of final destination, as a function of the existence of tensions or armed conflicts.

We believe these criteria should exclude trade in dual-use exports with Israel due to human rights violations over the last number of decades.
No licences were rejected in 2023, despite a large amount of such exports happening in the last 3 months of the year.

5. The implications for the Irish government arise not only due to the fact that Aeronautics Defence Systems is owned by the Israeli government. Elbit Systems, also a beneficiary of state contracts, has been subject to allegations, including the production of cluster bombs. In spite of denials by Elbit, numerous funds (including Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP and HSBC) divested themselves of Elbit between 2018-2022. During this period, Ireland continued to purchase military equipment and services from Elbit.

6. In response to the question of purchasing military equipment from Israeli companies, the Tánaiste cited public procurement obligations, which are set out under the EU Procurement Directives, and transposed into Irish regulations. However, there are numerous methods to embed ethical and human rights issues into procurement, practices, consistent with the EU Procurement Directives and other policies.

7.  Ireland has had an investment interest in 11 of companies on the UN database of businesses involved in the illegal Israeli settlements (occupied territories). While it was announced in April 2024 that Ireland will divest its shareholding (held by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF)) of €2.95 million in six of these Israeli companies, it may have come as a surprise to some that Ireland had such investments, and it suggests that to date, there has been little ethical or human rights considerations underpinning national investments.

Read the full report Ireland-Israel Trade and Human Rights here.

Full Report

Read the summary here.

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