Irish ambassador: Israel’s settlement activity makes it hard to oppose BDS bill

14 July, 2018, 11:42 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Irish ambassador: Israel’s settlement activity makes it hard to oppose BDS bill

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. If passed, the bill will have to go through several more stages of review and amendment before it is signed into a law.

For one, as a member of the European Union, Ireland does not have the right to ban the import of goods that are available elsewhere in the union, he said.

The bill would have a "polarising" effect "at this time", the Irish foreign minister said, stipulating that he would be "open to persuasion" in the future if there were no progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Bill passed through the Irish parliament's upper house, the Seanad, yesterday by 25 votes to 20, and will now advance to the committee stage.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded to the decision saying that "the Irish Senate has given its hand to an aggressive, risky and radical populist anti-Israel boycott initiative that undermines prospects for a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians".

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.

Legally, he said the Bill was in contravention of European Union law which did not permit a nation-state to take action on global trade which was out with European Union policy, which sets trade policies between all European Union states and the rest of the world. And just a week later, Fianna Fail (Warriors of Fal), the second-largest party in the Irish parliament, declared that it was going to back the bill, raising hopes among Palestine supporters in Ireland that it would indeed pass.

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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 worldwide community on the issue, "however strongly it might appeal to our sense of right".

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

Complying with an Irish ban on commerce with Israeli companies based in Judea and Samaria would violate United States anti-boycott laws, which require American firms to refuse participation in foreign boycotts that the USA does not sanction, and could result in substantial fines for those companies.

The bill only targets products made beyond the Green Line.

There is worldwide consensus on the illegality of these settlements.

Responding, Senator Mark Daly from Fianna Fail said Ireland was out on its own when supporting a Palestinian state in 1980, when there was just 30,000 settlers in Palestinian territory - now there was almost 500,000, he said. Once again, Ireland is making history and leading the way in its solidarity with the Palestinian people.

As such, Kittrie believes that Israel needs to do a better job in improving the country's image in Ireland.

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