Soccer Football - International Friendly - Northern Ireland v Israel - Windsor Park, Belfast, Britain - September 11, 2018 Free Palestine message displayed on a hill outside the stadium.
(photo credit: CLODAGH KILCOYNE/REUTERS)
Prominent Israeli leftists have called on Ireland’s lower parliament to push forward a bill to criminalize West Bank settlement activity in advance of a significant debate set for late Wednesday afternoon.
Former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and Israeli prize winner Ze’ev Sternhell, were among the Israeli dignitaries who signed a letter in support of the bill, which they published in The Irish Times.
“The occupation and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements have been correctly identified by successive Irish governments as major obstacles to peace, yet Ireland, along with the rest of the EU, continues to sustain the occupation by trading with illegal Israeli settlements established in clear and direct violation of international law,” they wrote.
“As people who care deeply about Israel’s future and long for our country to live in peace with its neighbors, we urge you to support the aforementioned bill,” they said. Other signatories included former Israeli ambassador to France Elie Barnavi, former ambassador to South Africa Ilan Baruch, former ambassador to the Czech Republic Erela Hadark, former acting supreme court justice Michael Ben-Yair, former Meretz MK Naomi Chazan and former Israeli prize winners, David Harel, Dani Karavan, Miki Kratsman, Yehuda Judd Ne’eman and David Shulman.
The controversial bill was first put forward as a private member’s bill by Irish Senator Frances Black and was approved by the Irish Senate in December of last year. It now needs approval from the lower parliament before it moves to the Irish president’s desk for approval.
“Another big day today,” Black tweeted.
The government, however, has opposed the bill and could have the power to stop in the lower parliament in spite of the strong support for the bill in the senate. Ireland is a member of the European Union and as such is bound by its foreign policy on respective matters.
The EU has supported the commercial labeling of Israeli products produced over the pre-1967 lines, but has opposed banning or criminalizing such activity.
The bill is called the “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018.” It makes it a criminal “offense for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances; and to provide for related matters.”
If passed into law, the measure would impose a fine of up to 250,000 euros or five years in jail for those found guilty of engaging in such activity in relation to the Golan Heights, east Jerusalem and West Bank settlements.
The Ireland Israel Alliance plans to protest the bill at 2:15 p.m. in front of Leinster House in Dublin and produced a short video against it, which it posted on the group’s website.
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