Ireland goes ahead with legislation to boycott products made in Israeli settlements


While other countries have issued condemnations or moved to label Israeli items produced in the occupied Palestinian territories, this Bill is believed to be the first which would ban the import of the goods altogether.

Nonetheless, Irish Sen. Frances Black, who sponsored the legislation, called on colleagues to support the bill "to state firmly that Irish foreign policy will always stand on the side of global law, human rights and justice".

If the bill is finally accepted, Ireland will become the first country member of the European Union, which will prohibit commercial activity on the territory of Israel.

The Bill, passed its first vote in the Seanad by 25 votes to 20 with the support of Fáil, Sinn Féin, and several independent senators.

Senior Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat hailed it as a "historic" vote and a "courageous gesture", which "sends a clear message to the worldwide community and in particular to the rest of the European Union - to speak of a two-state solution is not enough without concrete measures".

The Irish foreign ministry accused the Senate of "a populist, unsafe and extremist anti-Israel boycott". Calling Israeli settlements a "war crime", she compared her proposal to Irish efforts to oppose apartheid in South Africa, adding Ireland "will always stand on the side of global law, human rights and justice".

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. Recognising this, Egan said that "Fine Gael's sole opposition to this Bill is an embarrassment".

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

Currently, the country is importing a variety of products from illegal Israeli settlements, including fruit and vegetables, wine, plastics, big brand beauty products such as "Ahava", and others.

Kelly stressed at that meeting that the initiative had been sponsored by independent representatives in the Irish Senate and was opposed by the Irish government, but also that the proposed legislation was not a BDS initiative and that the Irish government is opposed to BDS.

Note that today the Senate in Dublin voted in the first reading for the law, according to which trade relations with Israeli enterprises beyond the green line, will be considered a criminal offense.

There is worldwide consensus on the illegality of these settlements. The Irish no longer viewed Israel as the underdog struggling for national rights, but instead as a foreign occupier on someone else's land (the Palestinians), similar to the Irish experience with British control over Northern Ireland.

She said she visited Palestine earlier this year and, highlighting an Israel settlement which led to a Palestinian village losing its water supply to provide water for a chicken farm.

Israel's Foreign Ministry has held the government accountable for the vote and has summoned Kelly to its offices for a Thursday meeting.