Irish Senate backs bill banning Israeli settlement goods

Irish senate backs law banning trade with Israeli settlements

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 settlements are immoral and illegal under worldwide law, and Ireland is the first country to practise what the whole world preaches", he said.

Irish senators voted in favor of the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill by 25 votes to 20 on Wednesday. But after outrage by the Israeli government, as well as opposition from the ruling government in Ireland, the measure was postponed.

The campaign organisation Avaaz hailed the "unprecedented" vote and said: "Irish citizens, trade unions and civil society like Senator Black are determined to take advantage of this momentum for sanctions to become law".

Bill 2018 is scheduled to be voted on in the Irish Senate on Wednesday.

Coveney said he accepted those proposing the Bill had legal advice which said it could be legal under EU law due to exceptions which can made on issues of public policy which have been used by other EU states such as Germany, but said he had written evidence from EU officials confirming that it would be illegal, and therefore that advice "could not be relied upon".

Israel's foreign ministry replied immediately with condemnation, calling it a "radical, anti-Israeli populist boycott that "undermines prospects for a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians", as well as harms Palestinians working for those boycotted companies".

Speaking in the Senate, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney of the Fine Gael Party, said that such a boycott is logistically impossible due to Ireland's trade being tied up within the larger European Union, and that Ireland should not push ahead of the global community on the issue, "however strongly it might appeal to our sense of right". Law professor Orde F Kittrie claimed that the bill could mean major alterations to Ireland's links with these firms and may impact future FDI decisions.

On January 30, when the Seanad Éireann first debated the bill, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply criticized the proposed legislation and ordered Kelly, the Irish ambassador, summoned for a dressing down at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Simon Coveney has dismissed a proposed trade ban with Israel as a divisive move that would make peace in the Middle East even more hard. Those trading with Israeli settlements are complicit in the systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination.

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Similarly, the legislation may also pose a dilemma for many US -based companies in Ireland.

Opposition Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade Niall Collins told Israel's i24 television channel that "the party (Fianna Fáil) absolutely supports turning trade with the settlements into a criminal offense".

Kittrie pointed to the example of Apple, which has its second-largest research-and-development office located in Israel, and also produces some parts of its iPhone in Israel.

Proponents of the measure argued Israel is profiting from its illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories and the stalled peace process shows no signs of yielding a resolution. The campaign received support from over 6,000 people, including celebrities such as Charlie McGettigan and Christy Moore.

But following Israel's independence in 1948, Irish sympathies inexplicably shifted.

The bill does not name Israel but instead refers to an "occupying power" and "illegal settler". Furthermore, Ireland was one of the first European countries to call for a Palestinian state in 1980 and has insistently focused on the Palestinian refugee issue.

"It's time that Europe reconsider its approach to the boycott strategy". Once again, Ireland is making history and leading the way in its solidarity with the Palestinian people.

"Countries need to take a stand and put Apartheid Israel on notice that it can not continue to expand into Palestinian territory and brutalise its citizens".

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