Irish Senate Approves Bill Boycotting Israeli Settlement Goods

Irish government opposed the legislation, but independent and opposition lawmakers backed it ■ Israel: Move will ‘harm Palestinians,’ too

Ireland’s Senate passed on Wednesday a bill to boycott products from West Bank settlements.

The bill passed with 25 lawmakers voting in its favor, 20 against it and 14 abstaining. The legislation prohibits “the import and sales of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories.”

The bill needs to pass both houses of parliament before becoming law.

Earlier this year, a vote on the bill was delayed at the Irish government’s request. The government, at Israel’s urging, then sought to soften the language, but was unable to reach a compromise.

The bill has passed thanks to votes from opposition legislators and independents. Senator Frances Black, the independent who sponsored the bill, recently posted a video urging the Irish to pressure their representatives to support it.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry slammed Ireland after it passed the bill, stating on that the “Irish Senate has given its support to a populist, dangerous and extremist anti-Israel boycott initiative that hurts the chances of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The Foreign Ministry added that the law will “have a negative impact on the diploamtic process in the Middle East,” and that it will “harm the livelihood of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott.”

The ministry said Israel was still considering its response according to developments regarding the legislation.

Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat congratulated Ireland on the decision to pass the bill, stating that he wished to “extend our sincere appreciation to the Irish Seanad for standing tall for the principle of justice by approving this historic motion banning trade with the illegal Israeli colonial-settlements in Occupied Palestine.”
“Today the Irish Seanad 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 continued.

“I would like to make use of this occasion to thank everyone that was involved in the approval of this law, from political parties to Palestinian and Irish civil society, and particularly to Senator Frances Black for her courage to introduce this motion that advances the cause of justice in Palestine,” he stated.

Reactions among Israeli lawmakers to the passage of the boycott bill were mixed. MK Ayelet Nahmias Verbin (Zionist Union), a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that “the Irish boycott on products from Judea and Samaria could easily trickle to a boycott on Israeli products and legitimize other European countries to start a similar move.”

Meanwhile, MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) boasted she was “glad the law passed” and that it “conveys an important political message: It’s time that Europe reconsider its approach to the boycott strategy Israel is becoming more and more fascist every day, and international law is only weakening in the face of Israeli destructiveness.”

Netanyahu’s protest

The vote was originally supposed to take place in January, but it was postponed after the Foreign Ministry summoned Ireland’s ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, and demanded an explanation. The ministry was acting at the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the foreign minister.

Kelly told Rodica Radian-Gordon, head of the ministry’s Europe desk, that the bill was sponsored by independent legislators, but that the Irish government opposed it. She also insisted that the bill wasn’t a BDS proposal, but merely called for boycotting the settlements.

Netanyahu, however, didn’t accept this argument. He denounced the bill, saying it was meant to “support the BDS movement and harm Israel.” In a statement issued by his office, he added that the bill “gives a tailwind to those who seek to boycott Israel and is utterly contrary to the principles of free trade and justice.”