Irish senate advances boycott bill criminalizing trade with Israeli settlements

Clay Curtis
July 14, 2018

The Control of Economic Activities (occupied territories) Bill 2018 seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.

However, now that "three opposition parties - Labour, Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail - have announced that they will support the bill", as well as "several independents", the "bill is now expected to pass".

Besides Israeli settlements, the bill also forbids imports from the Crimea and Western Sahara.

She spoke with the paper after legislation that would make such trade punishable by jail time and a large monetary fine passed an important hurdle in the Irish Senate with a 25-20 vote.

"The Irish government has consistently opposed the policy of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions in relation to Israel and we regularly say this publicly", she said.

Following the legislation's passage, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the absurdity in the Irish Senate's initiative is "that it will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott".

There are now over 150 illegally established settlements in the West Bank, all in violation of International Law, as outlined in the 4th Geneva Convention.

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Independent lawmaker Frances Black, who wrote the bill, has condemned Israeli settlements as "a gross violation of worldwide law". There is a clear hypocrisy here: "How can we condemn the settlements as 'unambiguously illegal, ' as theft of land and resources, but happily buy the proceeds of this crime?" Recognising this, Egan said that "Fine Gael's sole opposition to this Bill is an embarrassment". But when he addressed the Seanad yesterday ahead of the vote, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was outnumbered.

It, however, is a shame that Ireland was forced to take this first step alone, as the European Union seems more interested in appeasing Israeli colonialism and oppression than in defending the rights of Palestinians.

Israel has acted angrily to such moves in the past, heavily criticising the European Union after it backed labelling products produced in its settlements in 2015.

The bill was introduced by Frances Black, a well-known singer and member of the Seanad, the upper house in Ireland's Parliament.

Although its opponents have labelled it as "radical" and claimed that it harms free trade, the bill actually enforces compliance with both global and Irish law. It becomes law only with the signature of the Irish president. Once again, Ireland is making history and leading the way in its solidarity with the Palestinian people.

"Stand up for what you believe in and hold Israel to account".

But how did the Irish, who like the Jewish people have also faced centuries of persecution, end up so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause?

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