Irish Ambassador: Settlement activity makes trade bill opposition hard

"One of the points I always make to the Israelis is that I represent the government and the government opposed the bill in January and it opposed it today,”

July 12, 2018 08:07
2 minute read.

Flag or Ireland. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza makes it more difficult for the Irish government to oppose a parliamentary bill criminalizing trade with east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Gaza, Ireland’s Ambassador to the Israel Alison Kelly told The Jerusalem Post.

She spoke with the paper after legislation that would make such trade punishable by jail time and a large monetary fine passed an important hurdle in the Irish Senate with a 25-20 vote.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney spoke against the bill during the debate at the Senate, known as the Seanad Éireann.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has held the government accountable for the vote and has summoned Kelly to its offices for a Thursday meeting.

It’s the second time she has been summoned over the bill.

“I have been called in a number of times. One of the points I always make to the Israelis is that I represent the government and the government opposed the bill in January and it opposed it today,” Kelly told The Jerusalem Post after the vote.

The Irish government is a minority government and doesn’t enjoy a majority in either house, Kelly said. “The bill is focused [solely] on the sale of products from settlements and not on trade within the Green Line.”

“The Irish government has consistently opposed the policy of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions in relation to Israel and we regularly say this publicly,” she said.

Nonetheless, Kelly added: “The government opposed the bill for legal and political reasons but support for it in Ireland is a sign of the deep concern at continued settlement activity, which we believe seriously jeopardizes the prospect for peace and the two-state solution. We firmly oppose all settlement construction. Events on the ground at the moment in Gaza, the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and announcement of settlement construction renders the task more difficult in opposing the bill.”

Ireland is often one of Israel’s harshest critics with regard to its treatment of Palestinians. But Kelly said that “the scope of the Irish-Israeli relationship is broader than this issue.”

“We will continue to work to foster and to build wider links and to improve positive engagement with Israel in spite of the issues on which we disagree,” she added.

The legislation now moves through eight stages that include a committee meeting and a vote in Ireland’s house of representatives, known as the Dáil Éireann. It becomes law only with the signature of the Irish president.

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