The Irish Senate gave its support on Wednesday to a legislation prohibiting the import or sale of goods and services produced in occupied territories around the world, including Israeli settlements considered illegal under international law.
The proposed law – passed 25 to 20 – to make it an offence to trade in such goods and services was introduced by an independent senator and drew support from all Ireland’s major political parties except the governing Fine Gael party.
The bill will now go to the lower house of parliament for a debate and vote. If passed, the bill will have to go through several more stages of review and amendment before it is signed into a law.
Today's decision by the Irish Senate is one that should be joined by all states that care about bringing an end to the mistreatment and humiliations experienced daily by Palestinians in the occupied territories
Saeb Erekat, senior leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organistion, called the move by Ireland’s upper house, Senead, “historic” and urge other countries to do the same.
“Today the Irish Senate has sent a clear message to the international community and particularly to the rest of the European Union: the mere talking about the two-state solution is not enough without taking concrete measures,” Erekat said in a statement.
“Those trading with Israeli settlements are complicit in the systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination,” he added.
There are 150 illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank home to about 750,000 settlers.
The “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018” was put forward by Irish independent Senator Frances Black and co-signed by Senators Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane, Colette Kelleher, John G Dolan, Grace O’Sullivan and David Norrison on January 24 this year.
“This bold action by Ireland sends an important message to Israel that its occupation of the West Bank and its explicit support for illegal settlements will not continue to go ignored by the international community,” said Barry Trachtenberg, Rubin Presidential Chair of Jewish history at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“The settlements are an intentional obstacle put in place by successive Israeli governments to thwart any peace agreement with the Palestinian people and to further Israel’s control over the entire region.
“Today’s decision by the Irish Senate is one that should be joined by all states that care about bringing an end to the mistreatment and humiliations experienced daily by Palestinians in the occupied territories.”
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the vote would have “a negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East”.
“The absurd in the Irish Senate’s initiative is that it will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott,” he said.
“Israel will consider its response in accordance with developments regarding the legislation,” he added.
The Irish government said the measure, unprecedented for a European Union member, was unworkable because it would impose a trade barrier within the EU’s single market and could harm Irish influence in the region.