The Irish Senate has voted to approve a proposal to criminalise doing business with Jews in Judea, Samaria, parts of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights — areas that came under Israel’s control after the 1967 Six Day War.
After the vote, which passed in a 25-20 vote on Wednesday, the Irish ambassador was summoned to a meeting at the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s office.
If the Republic of Ireland advances legislation and officially approves the proposal, it will become the first country in the European Union to criminalise import of goods from the so-called settlements.
Whilst deliberately not mentioning Israel by name, according to the proposal, all imports from what it describes as “illegal settlements”, including the Golan Heights and so-called West Bank, could result in fines. The proposal’s initiator, Senator Frances Black, slammed Israeli settlements as “war crimes” and compared her initiative to Ireland’s anti-apartheid actions against South Africa.
Ireland’s government strongly opposes the initiative and claims that it creates trade restrictions contrary to EU values, as well as undermines Ireland’s influence in the region.
According to EU law, its members can only mark products coming from settlements, but not boycott or impose sanctions on their imports.
Following the approval of the proposal, the Israeli Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the decision.
Emmanuel Nahshon, the ministry’s spokesman, said that “the Irish Senate has given its hand to an aggressive, dangerous and radical populist anti-Israel boycott initiative that undermines prospects for a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The boycott will harm the livelihood of many Palestinians working in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott, and will only deepen conflicts in the Middle East,” said Nahshon.
— Ireland Israel Alliance (@irlisrAlliance) July 11, 2018
For a third time this year, the Irish ambassador, Alison Kelly, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry’s office. After she submitted the proposal In January, Kelly was called to the ministry’s office and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kelly said that the bill was not an initiative of the BDS movement, but Netanyahu rightly said the proposal supports those seeking to boycott Israel. The bill has seen widespread support from the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian lobby, with the bill’s proposer Frances Black making its intent clear. On Thursday she was seen outside the Senate celebrating with pro-Palestinian protesters.
— STAND WITH PALESTINE (@Pray4Pal) July 11, 2018
Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, went further by calling for the closure of Ireland’s embassy in Israel: “There is no point in summoning the Irish ambassador to Israel to be reprimanded,” Defense Minister tweeted, “With Israel’s enemies there is nothing to discuss. Israel should close immediately its embassy in Dublin,” Liberman tweeted. “We won’t turn the other cheek to a country which boycotts us.”
Chairman of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, welcomed the proposal, saying that “this is a historic and courageous gesture that conveys a clear message to the EU and to the international community as a whole.”
Today the Irish flag flies outside #Ramallah City Hall following yesterday's historic #Seanad vote to support Senator @Frances_Black's/@SeanadCEG's/@SenDavidNorris Bill to ban illegal Israeli #SettlementGoods from #Ireland. pic.twitter.com/LgRC7dZ5xP
— Sadaka (@SadakaIreland) July 12, 2018
The initiative will be handed over to parliamentary committees until it is finally approved by the Irish parliamentarians.