Settlement boycott bill left out of new Irish government’s plans

Despite apparently dropping the bill, the government of Ireland, one of Israel’s biggest critics in the EU, does not broadly plan to let Israel off easy on the matter.

Flag of Ireland (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Flag of Ireland
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The draft program for the new Irish government for the next five years, published this week, does not include promoting a bill to outlaw the sale of products from Israelis in the West Bank, Golan Heights or east Jerusalem.
However, it would push for the EU to have an "appropriate response" should Israel apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
The plan was published this week as Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party moved toward finalizing a new government. Like in Israel, parties that were previously on opposing sides have formed a coalition together, and there is a rotation for the position of Taoiseach, who is prime minister and head of state. Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil will take on the role until December 2022, at which point Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael would return to the post.
Fianna Fáil said in its election platform that it will “progress the Occupied Territories Bill,” but the legislation is not mentioned at all in the 126-page government program.
That bill seeks to impose fines of up to €250,000 on merchants in Ireland who sell products from the West Bank, Golan Heights or east Jerusalem, or sentence them to up to five years in prison. The legislation passed several votes in the Daíl, Ireland's lower house of parliament and the Seanad, or senate.
Varadkar’s Fine Gael opposed the bill, arguing that it is in contravention of EU trade rules and that Ireland would incur major fines should it become law.
Despite apparently dropping the settlement boycott bill, the government of Ireland, one of Israel’s biggest critics in the EU, does not plan more broadly to let Israel off easily on the matter.
Ireland plans to be part of the “leadership within the EU to oppose any annexation – of plans to apply Israeli sovereignty over territory in the West Bank, which is part of the occupied Palestinian territory,” the program states.
“The government would regard any such moves as a breach of international law and would consider an appropriate response to them at both national and international level.”
Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state is a step a number of EU states, Ireland among them, have been considering if Israel decides to apply its laws to parts of the West Bank.
The new Irish government pledged to “honor [its] commitment to recognize the State of Palestine as part of a lasting settlement of the conflict,” but reserved the right to do so at an earlier point, “when we believe doing so will progress efforts to reach a two-state solution or protect the integrity of Palestinian territory.”
Indicating that Israel would be a target of Irish reprisal even if it does not move forward with extending sovereignty, the program says it opposes “the maintenance” of settlements.
The new government also reaffirmed its “commitment to fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency… supporting key projects in education and energy,” despite ample evidence that the UNRWA curriculum incites against Israel and Jews.
Dublin plans to keep its focus on Israel, with the program stating that “Ireland’s longstanding support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remain an integral aspect of our foreign policy.”