The BDS movement has suffered a major defeat in Ireland. The coalition program agreed between Irish political parties intending to form the next government does not include the “Occupied Territories Bill” introduced in the previous Parliament.
This is a major defeat for the antisemitic BDS movement, which put large resources behind a campaign to pass the Bill over the last three years.
The Bill targeted goods and services produced wholly or partly by Israelis in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. Supply of these goods or services would have been made a criminal offence with a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment
Caroline Turner, Director of United Kingdom Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), which led the efforts to defeat the Bill, explained that n the last Irish Parliament, the Bill was backed by all opposition parties including Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the Greens. It passed a series of votes with comfortable majorities, but was blocked by the minority Fine Gael government, on the ground that it was contrary to EU law and would incur government expenditure which required government approval.
The opposition parties gained ground in the election earlier this year, making a coalition government inevitable. Supporters of the Bill strongly pressed Fianna Fail and the Greens to maintain their previous support for the Bill and insist on its inclusion in the government program. However, Fine Gael stood firm, insisting on the illegality of the Bill under EU law.
The coalition agreement is subject to approval by party members, but this seems likely to be given.
UKLFI, together with Irish4Israel and Ireland Israel Alliance, played a major role in demonstrating the illegality of the Bill and the errors in legal opinions deployed by supporters of the Bill. Allies in the pro-Israel legal network, including The Lawfare Project and the International Legal Forum, contributed to the success.
Significant assistance was also provided by the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Kohelet Policy Forum, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Solomon Osservatore, amongst others.
Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive of UKLFI, said “It was very important to win this. If we had lost, other EU countries might well have followed. The legal objections were decisive and this shows the significance of the legal component in fighting BDS and other anti-Israel activities”