Ireland postpones controversial bill banning trade with settlements after Israel issues protest

January 31, 2018 Agencies
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The Irish Senate postponed a vote on a controversial bill that would criminalize trade with Israeli settlements just hours after the Israeli government protested the measure.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney meet in Jerusalem in July 2017.
Photo: Haim Zac/GPO

During a debate on the measure last night, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, while condemning Israeli settlements as “unjust,” recommended that the government oppose the bill and adjourn a vote on it.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned Ireland’s ambassador to Israel over the bill.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said the legislation’s “sole purpose is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel.”

The Israeli Embassy in Ireland also denounced the bill, saying that it “only offers an incentive to those who wish to boycott Israel and stands in stark contrast to the guiding principles of free trade and justice.”

The legislation, titled “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018,” calls to “prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories,” according to Senator Frances Black, the bill’s sponsor.

“This is a chance for Ireland to stand up for the rights of vulnerable people—it is about respecting international law and refusing to support illegal activity and human suffering. We condemn the settlements as illegal but support them economically,” Black said prior to the vote. “As international law is absolutely clear that the settlements are illegal, then the goods they produce are the proceeds of crime. We must face up to this.”

Current European Union law stipulates that Israeli products originating from beyond the pre-1967 lines cannot be labeled as “Made in Israel.”  Israel considers the West Bank to be disputed territory, whose borders will be determined in any peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

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