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Irish senate passes bill banning products from Israeli settlements

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on 18 Comments

The Irish senate has voted in favor of a bill banning the importation of products from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, paving the way for the country to become the first EU nation to enforce a boycott of Israeli settlement goods.

The bill, which passed on Wednesday in the upper house of the Irish parliament, the Seanad, will need to make its way through more Seanad votes and then the lower house before becoming law.

The bill passed with 25 lawmakers voting in its favor, 20 against it and 14 abstaining.

Palestinian officials and activists supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement hailed the move as courageous.

Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO Executive Committee released a statement after the vote saying she was “truly honored to extend our sincere appreciation of and deep gratitude to the Seanad Éireann who took a courageous and principled stand in support of peace, justice, and morality.”

Ashrawi praised the “historical friendship and solidarity between both the Palestinian and Irish peoples,” adding that the legislation bears great significance for Palestine, particularly in the context of Ireland’s firm commitment to defending social justice, equality and freedom and the rights of the oppressed, including the Palestinians, a people in captivity and exile.”

She went on to implore other EU countries and the international community to follow in Ireland’s path “to hold Israel accountable and to act on their declared principles and policies by banning all settlement products and beginning a process of de-occupation in Palestine.”

While the bill calls only for the boycott of the importation of goods produced in Israeli settlements, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed it “gives a tailwind to those who seek to boycott Israel and is utterly contrary to the principles of free trade and justice”. The bill does not ban all Israeli products.

According to the Irish Times, the EU has estimated that settlement goods make up about one percent of the €50 million annual imports from Israel to the country, at €500,000.

The Irish government, however, estimated in 2012 that the figure stood closer to €1.5 million.

The Irish Times highlighted that many fruits and vegetables imported from Israel come from the settlements, specifically Medjool dates. The dates are farmed by settlers in Jericho, famous in Palestine for its dates, on occupied Palestinian land.

According to the newspaper, if enacted into law, regulating settlement goods may prove difficult for the country, given reports of Israeli settlement companies bypassing EU labeling regulations by bringing products from settlement farms to processing facilities inside Israel proper, from where they are labeled and shipped out.

“By using such tactics, exporters can present their goods as ‘made in Israel’, thereby enjoying preferential access to the EU’s markets,” the Irish Times reported.

The Israeli government, which slammed the bill as “populist, dangerous and extremist,” has increased its measures to combat the BDS movement, as it has expanded to include companies, universities, and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.

Despite previous pressure from Israel on Ireland to kill the legislation, the Irish lawmaker behind the bill, Frances Black, said in a statement prior to the vote that “trade in settlement goods sustains injustice”.

“In the occupied territories, people are forcibly kicked out of their homes, fertile farming land is seized, and the fruit and vegetables produced are then sold on Irish shelves to pay for it all,” she said, adding that “settlements are war crimes, and it’s time for Ireland to show some leadership and refuse to support them.”

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About Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is a multimedia journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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18 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 14, 2018, 7:17 pm

    Go Ireland! Makes me proud.

  2. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    July 15, 2018, 6:06 am

    RE: “The Irish Times highlighted that many fruits and vegetables imported from Israel come from the settlements, specifically Medjool dates. The dates are farmed by settlers in Jericho, famous in Palestine for its dates, on occupied Palestinian land.” ~ Yumna Patel

    MY COMMENT: I have always loved dates, but ever since I first read about this several years ago I have avoided them entirely (which ruled out some of my favorite cereals).

  3. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    July 15, 2018, 7:05 am

    A positive result yes but undermined to an extent IMO by the fact that 20 TDs(MPs) voted against the bill and 14 abstained. Would love to know why.
    Of interest in the context of the bill is the support for it from a number of ex-Israeli Ambassadors and other Israelis
    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/israeli-settlements-in-occupied-territories-1.3372692

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 15, 2018, 8:45 am

      Of interest in the context of the bill is the support for it from a number of ex-Israeli Ambassadors and other Israelis

      Of interest? It’s rather good old Same Old. They say it black on white: they want a boycott limited to post-1967 conquests so that they can, in the long run, keep the pre-1967 illegal conquests, including the bandit state illegally declared in 1948.

      They also say in so many words that the “two-state” solution is desired by their faction of Zionism as the only way to enjoy, in peace, the spoils of illegal invasion and robbery and mass murder and other crimes against humanity.

      Liberal Zionists are more intelligent and much more dangerous than the non-liberal, stupid variety.

  4. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    July 15, 2018, 9:43 am

    @echo
    As you have pointed out I did say it was “of interest”. As you will note from my previous comments on this site I consider the 2SS to be a Zionist fraud and a scam and an impossibility .Whatever you think of their overall position vis a vis the colonisation of Palestine I think personally it is fair to say that these individuals have gone out on a limb and risked the consequences from the Zio establishment for encouraging the Irish Parliament to boycott settlements products Some credit where credit is due surely ?

    • annie
      annie
      July 15, 2018, 9:54 am

      oss, at this juncture, i wouldn’t worry too much about the purity patrol. let’s just hope it passes the final vote.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 15, 2018, 12:19 pm

      Ossinev,

      Certainly the Avnery crew deserve credit for their letter of support; same for the lib-Zios who support some boycott limited to the post-67 (as long as they don’t sabotage the general boycott effort or don’t attempt to direct the solidarity movement.)

      I’m not saying they don’t but it’s not a good idea to leave any reader in the illusion that these guys are any less dangerous than the currently reigning fraction. A reminder that their aim is getting peace to keep the loot of the invasion, Nakba and wars is always in order.

  5. CigarGod
    CigarGod
    July 15, 2018, 10:07 am

    Yuma, Arizona has some of the finest dates…so you can double your pleasure by honoring the boycott while still enjoying the best.

  6. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    July 15, 2018, 10:42 am

    RE: “Irish senate passes bill banning products from Israeli settlements”

    ISRAELI REACTION:
    “Israeli minister calls for ‘immediate closure’ of country’s embassy in Ireland”
    by Laura Larkin | Independent.ie | July 13 2018

    (EXCERPT) Israel’s defence minister has called for the “immediate” closure of the country’s embassy in Dublin following the passage of a bill blocking the import of Israeli goods produced in occupied Palestinian territories.

    Ireland’s ambassador to Israel, Aoife Kelly, was summoned to the country’s foreign ministry over the bill. . .

    CONTINUED AT ~ https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/israeli-minister-calls-for-immediate-closure-of-countrys-embassy-in-ireland-37114374.html

  7. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    July 15, 2018, 12:50 pm

    @JLD
    I do hope that the Moldovan bouncer will have his way as in good riddance to a nasty smell but somehow I doubt it. The Irish would reciprocate and there would be IMO a huge backlash in Ireland itself with Scotland perhaps following suit and one would hope from within the ancestral Irish communities around the world . The Zioscum would not want that. But then again their arrogance has reached new levels and there is definitely a lunatics/takeover/asylum scenario at play.

    • inbound39
      inbound39
      July 15, 2018, 6:45 pm

      It will not be of any serious concern if Israel does close its embassy in Ireland. It serves Ireland well by showing it honours the principles of International law and does not merely pay lip service to it like EU. UK and US Governments. Ireland holds Israel to account for its crimes and hopefully many other States will follow suit and do the same. NZ did not suffer when Israel Embassy was closed. Its reopening here was done quietly with no public input. The Labour government here supported the recent Resolution against settlements and I am hoping NZ follows the Irish example and makes a similar ruling. The National Government did nothing when Israel sent its rip off cosmetic firm here which ripped off many elderly people and intellectually challenged people. All National did was voice its concern. The Public forced them out of NZ in a week and they left in a hurry leaving vehicles and all their contents and possessions in homes they rented. I was really proud of my fellow Kiwi’s. Hopefully Ardern will step up and engineer the closure of the Embassy here. It is a very important step in ensuring Israel has no base in country to undermine and infiltrate government. They have infiltrated the Australian Government. All Friends of Israel chapters around the World need to be banned because they engage in subterfuge and are proven to be just an undercover branch of the Israeli Government.

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        July 17, 2018, 6:23 pm

        Thank you, inbound39, for highlighting the story of Dead Sea Minerals.

        https://www.timesofisrael.com/dead-sea-product-hawkers-skirt-law-decency/

        “Young Israelis hawking skin care products, ostensibly made from minerals from the Dead Sea, have become a common sight in malls around the world. They grab customers passing by their kiosks and coerce them into buying overpriced cosmetics, many in an attempt to make money as quickly as possible to fund post-army travels.

        But the aggressive maneuvers utilized by the Israeli salespeople, coupled with the fact that many of them are working illegally, have roused the suspicions of the FBI, US Homeland Security, embassies around the world trying to combat labor fraud, and journalists who are uncovering questionable sales tactics.

        The issue came to a head in New Zealand earlier this summer, where a Dead Sea Spa kiosk in an Auckland mall was accused of swindling an elderly lady and forcing her to buy $5,000 worth of cosmetics. According to Campbell Live, the New Zealand Channel 3 TV program that first aired the story about the elderly woman, Dead Sea Spa had also charged an autistic man $4,400 for cosmetics in a half hour period, though $1,000 of the charges were not connected to products. On a separate occasion, a saleswoman sold $17,000 of products to a man with short-term memory loss who could not remember purchases he made just minutes earlier.”

        122/133

  8. John O
    John O
    July 15, 2018, 7:32 pm

    James Zogby has some words of praise for Ireland at the LobeLog site:

    https://lobelog.com/thank-you-ireland/

  9. RoHa
    RoHa
    July 15, 2018, 11:07 pm

    How can Ireland survive without an Israeli Embassy to prop it up?

  10. RobertHenryEller
    RobertHenryEller
    July 16, 2018, 9:24 am

    What a contrast. Ireland doesn’t send us their best people. The country has the decency to ban settlement “goods.” Meanwhile, in the U.S., what do we get? Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Rupert Murdoch, Steve Bannon, Kellyann Conway, Newt Gingrich (nee McPherson).

  11. amigo
    amigo
    July 16, 2018, 10:42 am

    This will not pass without the usual interference by Israel,s friends.

    “Fianna Fáil has confirmed that it was lobbied by the US State Department, the US embassy in Dublin and the Israeli embassy in an effort to get the party to withdraw its support for a Bill which would ban goods from occupied Palestinian territories.

    A party spokesman confirmed to The Irish Times that the contacts were “cordial” and the party clarified its position, confirming that it intended to support the Bill.

    Fianna Fáil support is crucial to the Bill as it is strongly opposed by the Government. The Bill, proposed by Independent Senator Frances Back, passed its first vote in the Seanad on Wednesday by 25 votes to 20 with the support of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour and several Independent Senators.

    Once it passes through the Seanad, it must then pass through the Dáil before becoming law. If supported by the same coalition of parties and Independents, it would have sufficient support to pass in the Dáil and become law.

    However, the Government says the Bill cannot be brought into force as trade is an EU competence. Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, who spoke against the proposed legisation in the Seanad, said he was obliged to follow the advice of the Attorney General on the Bill.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/us-lobbied-ff-to-block-seanad-vote-on-israeli-boycott-1.3561794

    Apparently Simon Coveney has been taken in by nuttyahoo and believes Israel is serious when it claims to support a 2SS.He claims the passage of this bill would diminish his standing with the Israeli side.

    Simon , open your eyes –Israel is not the least bit interested in allowing a 2SS.

    Another report !!!.

    “The Government is likely to “do everything in its power” to block a Bill that would ban imports from Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, sources familiar with the issue say.

    Two sources raised the prospect of the Taoiseach’s office declining to supply a “money message”, a note that is procedurally necessary to allow Private Members’ Bills to proceed through the Oireachtas. The use of such a device to block the Bill would be disputed but the minority Government used it last year to halt a Fianna Fáil Bill on judicial appointments.

    The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill , which passed its first vote in the Seanad this week, is opposed by the Government but is backed by Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour and some Independents.

    Campaigners expect the Bill to pass through the Dáil and Seanad as the Government does not have a majority in either house. However, the Bill still has many parliamentary hurdles to clear before becoming law.

    Fine Gael is opposed to the Bill after seeing advice from the Attorney General stating that, as trade is an exclusive competence of the EU, Ireland could not institute a unilateral ban on goods from the settlements. Campaigners in favour of the boycott argue that they have legal advice that says an exemption is available for countries in cases of “public policy”.

    Further complication

    Another complication for Fine Gael is that their Government partner, the Independent Alliance, supports the Bill and may seek a free vote should the Bill reach the Dáil in the autumn.

    Minister of State Finian McGrath of the Independent Alliance reacted strongly to comments from Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said Israel should immediately close its embassy in Dublin in response to the Seanad vote.

    “There are no Israel haters here. You can’t go around shooting 15-year-old unarmed protesters. We support the Palestinians and we support a peace in the Middle East,” Mr McGrath said.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also rejected Mr Lieberman’s comments.

    “I totally disagree with that position. Israel and Ireland have had diplomatic relations for a very long time now. We’ve an embassy in Tel Aviv, they’ve an embassy in Dublin. There are Israeli citizens in Ireland, Irish citizens in Israel, sometimes they need consular assistance … I think it is important that we continue to have diplomatic relations,” he said.
    Western first

    The result of the Seanad vote received widespread coverage in both Arab and Israeli media this week, with most reports acknowledging that it was the first time a western parliament had voted in favour of such a law.

    Arab media reported that Hamas “hailed” the vote, quoting a spokesman who described it as “an important step towards criminalising the behaviour of the occupation and its policy of illegal settlement-building on Palestinian land”.

    The European Commission said it was watching developments in Ireland regarding the Bill but a spokeswoman would not be drawn on the commission’s view on the Bill before it passes into law. She insisted that trade policy remained a unique prerogative of the commission.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/government-may-do-everything-in-its-power-to-block-occupied-territories-bill-1.3564420

  12. aginit
    aginit
    July 16, 2018, 11:41 am

    I don’t have time to read food labels at length, or to see if imports from Israel are from Palestine or not, so I simply avoid products produced in Israel or imported by companies that import products from Israel. In my local market that is a lot of products, but it seems logical to me that all Israeli products should be banned if the entire economy is benefitting from stealing Palestinian land and agriculture, much less destroying olive groves and murdering farmers.

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