Irish senate advances bill to criminalize settlement activity

The bill would make it illegal for Irish citizens to "import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory."

Main façade of Leinster House where the Irish Senate meets (photo credit: COURTESY OF JEAN HOUSEN)
Main façade of Leinster House where the Irish Senate meets
The Irish senate on Wednesday night advanced a bill to criminalize business transactions with Israeli entities and citizens in east Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank.
The private member bill submitted by Senator Frances Black in opposition to the Irish minority government was approved by a vote of 30-13. It gained support from the July vote of 25-20.
It must return to the plenum for one more vote to the senate (Seanad Éireann) before it moves to the House (Dáil Éireann) for approval.
The controversial legislation becomes law only once it receives the signature of the Irish president.
The bill calls for a fine of up to 250,000 euros or five years in jail for those found guilty of such activity.
If approved, it would put Ireland at odds with the rest of the EU, which has opposed such activity but has neither banned nor criminalized it.
Senator Michelle Margaret Mulherin told the plenum she feared Ireland would be “marginalized” in the EU if it took a stance against its collective policy.
“A number of people here might feel better if the bill was passed, but the conflict is bigger than the settlements,” she said. “Let’s not throw oil on the fire.”
The bill does not mention Israel by name, but all discussions of the text focused on Israel and the Palestinian territories – the explanation listed on Black’s Senate website mentions the West Bank in particular.
“The legislation has been prepared with the support of Trócaire, Christian-Aid and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), and applies to settlements in occupied territories where there is clear international legal consensus that they violate international law,” Black’s office said.
“The clearest current example is the Israeli occupation and expansion of settlements in the Palestinian ‘West Bank,’ which has been repeatedly condemned as illegal by the UN, EU, the International Court of Justice and the Irish government,” it added.