You are here

Irish Senate backs law banning trade with Israeli settlements

By AFP - Jul 12,2018 - Last updated at Jul 12,2018

A Palestinian boy waves a national flag by Israeli forces evacuating protesters from a school site being demolished in the village of Yatta, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, on Wednesday (AFP photo)

DUBLIN — The Irish Senate gave its support on Wednesday to a draft law prohibiting the import of goods produced in occupied territories around the world, including Israeli settlements considered illegal under international law.

Israel reacted angrily to the proposal calling it "populist, dangerous and extremist", while a spokesman for the PLO expressed "sincere appreciation" for the initiative.

The proposed law was introduced by an independent senator and drew support from all of Ireland's major political parties, except the governing Fine Gael party.

The Irish government said the measure, unprecedented for a European Union member, was unworkable because it would impose a trade barrier within the European Union's single market and could harm Irish influence in the region.

Senators voted in favour of the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill by 25 votes to 20, with applause rippling through the chamber after an impassioned debate.

It will now undergo further scrutiny in a senate committee, with the government set to continue trying to block it becoming law.

"We may have a long path ahead of us," said Senator Frances Black, the bill's author. "But I believe... we've made the case clearly."

Calling illegal Israeli settlements a war crime, she compared her proposal to early Irish efforts to oppose apartheid in South Africa, adding Ireland "will always stand on the side of international law, human rights and justice".

But Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned it risked "fanning flames" in the Middle East. 

"I respect this house and its decision but respectfully disagree", he said.

 

'Palestine's St Patrick's Day' 

 

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the vote would have "a negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East".

Saeb Erekat, Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general, welcomed the move.

“This courageous step builds on the historic ties between Ireland and Palestine, as well as it shows the way forward for the rest of the European Union,” he said.

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

It summoned the Irish ambassador for clarifications over the proposed legislation when it was first introduced in January.

Fadi Quran, Palestinian senior campaigner at pressure group Avaaz, who was in the senate when the bill passed, heralded July 11 “Palestine’s St Patrick Day”. 

“The settlements are immoral and illegal under international law, and Ireland is the first country to practise what the whole world preaches,” he said. 

“Now, others need to follow the Irish example.”

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 status quo has failed... that is why we are seeking a change,” said Senator Colette Kelleher, who co-signed the bill.

“I’m asking you to lead Europe,” she added, addressing her comments to Coveney.

But those opposed to the move said it could draw Ireland into trade disputes over contested territories in places like China, Cyprus and Crimea.

up
11 users have voted.

Comments

whey, what a relief, with the passage, there will be peace in the ME.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
9 + 9 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Newsletter

Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.