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Irish Senate advances bill boycotting Israeli settlement goods

Dec. 6, 2018 11:35 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 8, 2018 1:37 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Irish Senate, also known as Seanad Eireann, approved a bill that prohibits the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied Palestine, on late Wednesday.

The Control of Economic Activities (occupied territories) Bill 2018, which was voted in favor since July, declares it an offense “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods.”

The bill also states that those who “assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods” would be committing a crime punishable by up to five years in prison or a €250,000 fine.

Following the approval of the Senate, the bill needs the approval of the lower house of the parliament, known as Dail Eireann, before the Irish president signs it into law.

Irish Senator Frances Black, who had sponsored the bill, hailed its approval. She posted on her Twitter, “Incredible - the Occupied Territories Bill has just passed all stages in Seanad ireann! Ireland can be the first EU country to end trade in illegal #SettlementGoods.”

The passage of the pro-Palestine measure was followed by sustained applause and a standing ovation by opposition and independent senators.

However, Ireland’s minority government had opposed the bill.

The vote put Ireland on track to become the first European Union country to ban Israeli settlement goods in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

Independent Senator David Norris said, “We are the first country and I hope we won’t be the last” to break ranks with the EU.”

The measure, however, angered Israel, with its Foreign Ministry denouncing the approval of the bill.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “The Irish Senate 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.”

The boycott bill is part of a larger international movement known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led global campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel.

According to settlement watchdog Peace Now, in the two years since President Trump took office some 14,454 units in the West Bank has been approved, which is more than three times the amount that was approved in the year and half before his inauguration (4,476 units).

Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

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