Ireland has advanced a bill which will prevent the sale of goods from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The lower house of the Irish parliament – the Dail – yesterday voted in favor of a bill which will ban the purchase of all goods and services from Israel’s West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.
The bill was previously passed through the parliament’s upper house – the Seanad – before proceeding to the lower house and receiving a 78-45 majority in favor, Al Jazeera explained.
A bill to outlaw trade in goods from Israeli settlements was passed overwhelmingly today by the lower house of Ireland’s parliament, a major step on its journey into law. https://t.co/IwKHDI6BLU
— BDS movement (@BDSmovement) January 24, 2019
The bill – officially known as the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill – still needs to pass several more stages before being signed into Irish law, but it is expected to progress given its broad base of support from Irish opposition parties.
Once approved, the law would see fines of up to €250,000 ($284,000) or five years in jail be handed down for those found guilty of importing or selling any goods or services originating in the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem or West Bank settlements, the Jerusalem Post reported.
— Gaza Action Ireland (@GazaAI1) January 25, 2019
Though estimates put the value of settlement-made exports to Ireland at between only $580,000 and $1.1 million annually, the symbolic value of the bill and its potential to influence other European countries to follow suit has been hailed as a victory by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative party, said the bill is a “great victory for the BDS movement” and vowed that “we will seek to pass similar laws in a number of European countries in the near future”.
Fabulous news today about the #OccupiedTerritoriesBill which had been passed by the Dail. Great work to all who supported it. #ireland leads the way, who will follow? Maith thú @frances_black & @sinnfeinireland who supported the Bill all the way through. #BDS #FreePalestine ?? https://t.co/yCDL2ZsssT
— BB (@ismiseB) January 24, 2019
Israel has reacted with anger at the bill, summoning the Irish Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, to be reprimanded.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s office said that,
“Israel is outraged over the legislation against it in the Dail which is indicative of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism”.
“Instead of Ireland condemning Syria for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians, Turkey for the occupation of northern Cyprus and the terrorist organizations for murdering thousands of Israelis, it attacks Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. What a disgrace.”
— Rυтнαηαѕια #Ƥαℓєѕтιηє #BDS #GroupPalestine (@Ruthanasia) January 23, 2019
Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the vote “an expression of pure hostility on the part of its initiators,” adding: “This is a clear expression of obsessive discrimination that should be rejected with disgust.”
Ireland has been a long-time supporter of the BDS movement. In October, Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ announced that it will not sanction any staff members who refuse to travel to Israel for the Eurovision Song Contest, due to be held in Tel Aviv in May. RTÉ’s decision came after the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) called for a boycott of the competition “due to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people”.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)