Irish Senate approves bill banning 'settlement goods'

Upper house of Irish parliament approves so-called “Occupied Territories Bill”.

Elad Benari ,

Irish Houses of Parliament in Dublin
Irish Houses of Parliament in Dublin

The Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Irish parliament, on Wednesday approved the so-called “Occupied Territories Bill” which bans the importation or sale of goods or services from Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

According to the Irish Times, there was sustained applause and a standing ovation by Opposition Senators as the bill was supported without a vote.

The bill states that “it shall be an offence for a person to sell or attempt to sell settlement goods,” or assist in the sale of such goods or services.

The legislation must also be introduced and approved by the Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament, but the report noted that even if it is, the Irish government is likely to refuse to implement it.

Wednesday’s vote comes a week after the Senate voted to advance the bill by a majority of 28 to 14.

The so-called “Occupied Territories Bill” was promoted by Irish Senator Frances Black, who welcomed its approval by the lower house.

“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 settlement goods. It now goes to Dáil for agreement, and with such huge support we'll make this vital bill law!” she tweeted on Wednesday.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry denounced the approval of the legislation.

“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. This is a bill, which selectively uses international courts' decisions to discriminate solely against Israel and exclude all other cases of disputed territories,” it said in a statement.

“It is a dangerous piece of legislation as it gives the Palestinians the illusion that external coercion can actually replace negotiations. It encourages Palestinians to continue supporting terrorism instead of engaging in direct negotiations.”

“Sadly, if this legislation becomes a law it will be counter-productive, as it seeks to close doors for Israelis but will only succeed to close the door on any future input that Ireland could have in a peace process in the Middle East,” said the Foreign Ministry.

The discussion on the bill at the Irish Senate was postponed in January after Ireland's Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, was summoned for a meeting at the Foreign Ministry to clarify the legislative initiative. However, the bill was brought back to the table in July.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) last week blasted the Irish Senate after it advanced the bill.

“This proposal is disgraceful to Ireland and is tainted by anti-Semitism. The Irish Senate today gave a tailwind to contemptible boycott organizations that have links with terrorist organizations and cynically use the expression 'human rights' for purposes of spreading hatred and deepening the conflict," said Erdan.

"If the law is passed, we will act to expose all its motives and impulses, and we will also act to legally prevent its implementation in accordance with international trade laws and in accordance with American legislation," he added.

While it does not specify Judea and Samaria, the Israeli government understood it as singling out the Jewish state. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has condemned the initiative, saying that the goal of the proposed legislation “is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel.”