Irish bill to outlaw 'occupation' goods passes parliament's upper house
Crispin Rodwell/AP Images for Avaaz
Ireland’s proposed law to ban the import or sale of goods originating in the occupied territories advanced further on Wednesday after parliament’s upper house approved it, moving it to the lower house (Dáil Éireann), where it will need to pass five more rounds of debates before the president signs into law.
“Incredible — the Occupied Territories Bill has just passed all stages in Seanad Éireann! Ireland can be the first EU country to end trade in illegal #SettlementGoods,” bill sponsor, Independent Senator Frances Black, tweeted following the vote. “It now goes to Dáil for agreement, & with such huge support we’ll make this vital bill law!”
Replying on Twitter, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said the law would only drive Palestinians further away from peace talks.
“Truly incredible — the Irish Senate just approved a hateful boycott initiative against a friendly nation,” Nahshon tweeted. “This will not help the Palestinians and just push their leadership further away from negotiations.”
Israel’s foreign ministry issued a disdainful official response, calling the bill “the most extreme anti-Israel piece of legislation in Europe.”
It said the law would only harm Palestinians and deepen the rift with Israel.
“This bill will not help a single Palestinian and is aimed at negating the historical connection between the people of Israel and the birthplace of the Jewish people,” an official response from the foreign ministry read.
The bill itself does not refer to Israel or Palestinians, but instead bans the importation of goods and services from settlements condemned by Ireland and the European Union as illegal outposts in occupied territory, which would include Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
The bill makes it an offense punishable for up to five years in prison “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods" or to assist in such activities.
Proponents of the bill argue the legislation is not targeting Israel as an individual state, but rather is a reflection of international law, but critics claim the legislation was drafted in order to primarily target West Bank settlements.
“This is a bill which selectively uses international courts’ decisions to discriminate solely against Israel and exclude all other cases of disputed territories,” the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
Opponents of the bill have argued that the legislation requires the government to take action in a domain for which it lacks the authority to do so.
Fine Gael Senator Joe O'Reilley explained that goods from Israeli settlements could only be excluded at the EU level, and not by an individual state, thereby warning of facing potential legal action by anyone claiming to be affected by the bill.
Yet O'Reilley says that while his party opposes the bill, the government "are not supporters in any fashion of the occupation of these territories" adding that the faction wanted the "acceleration rate of occupation for 2017 and 2018 to stop."
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Any nation, prior to adopting legislation involving Israel, should read Genesis 12:1-3. I fear for Ireland.