The upper house of Ireland’s parliament passed a bill to criminalise importing or selling goods produced in Israeli towns in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
After advancing through several debates, the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 now moves to the lower house, known as the Dáil Éireann, where it will have to pass an additional five rounds of debates before the president would sign it 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,” the sponsor of the bill, Independent Senator Frances Black, tweeted minutes after the vote.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon replied by calling the measure hateful and unhelpful.
“Truly incredible — the Irish Senate just approved a hateful boycott initiative against a friendly nation,” he tweeted at Black. “This will not help the Palestinians and just push their leadership further away from negotiations.”
In a formal response to the vote, the Foreign Ministry stated: “The Irish Senate (Seanad Éireann) have chosen to give their backing to the most extreme anti-Israel piece of legislation in Europe. 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.”
The proposed legislation — a private member bill — declares it an offense “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods.”
Likewise, those who “assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods” would be committing a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, if the bill were to become law.
“The bill seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories,” Black said in a statement posted to her website on June 25.
“Such settlements are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground. Despite this, Ireland provides continued economic support through trade in settlement goods.”
While the bill does not mention Israel and the Palestinian territories, critics have charged that it appears to have been written exclusively with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind.