The nefarious Irish bill

Even if one subscribes to the prevailing international perspective that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is a form of occupation, what is one to make of the Irish parliament?

Jpost editorial logo  (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Jpost editorial logo
(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
It is hard to look at the Control of Economic Activity Bill 2018, known as the Occupied Territories Bill, now working its way through the Irish parliament without coming to the inescapable conclusion that it is a flat-out piece of biased legislation.
The bill – which already passed in the upper house of Ireland’s parliament and is now moving through the lower house – would impose fines of up to €250,000 or five years in jail on Irish merchants selling dates from settlements in the Jordan Valley, wine from the Golan Heights, or any goods or services coming from east Jerusalem.
The Occupied Territories Bill is part of the global anti-Israeli BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign whose ultimate objective is not the creation of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace with binational relations. Its real objective is the destruction of Israel, and this bill helps it along as viable legislation that will only further delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state.
Even if one subscribes to the prevailing international perspective that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is a form of occupation, what is one to make of the Irish parliament? If it was serious, it would broaden the bill to include other so-called occupied territories.
But it didn’t. No mention of Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian Crimea and parts of Georgia and Moldova or Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus. Morocco’s occupation of the Western Sahara goes ignored as well as do the recent killings on the street of Iran and Iraq. Just Israel is the bad guy.
According to a position paper submitted to the Irish Legislature’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade by the Ireland Israel Alliance, passage of the bill could potentially incur huge losses of US tax benefits for US companies with subsidiaries in Ireland, which could potentially lead to major US companies pulling out of Ireland.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was in Israel on a two-day visit this week – his fourth stopover in two and a half years – and according to The Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon, was told in no uncertain terms in his meetings with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz, that the bill would have consequences on bilateral ties.
Coveney told KAN broadcasting that while his government does not support the bill, he understands it as a “reflection of the frustration” over the stalled peace process. “This isn’t anti-Israel,” he said. “It is trying to raise awareness and to try to increase the profile of the Middle East peace process in terms of the lack of progress that we’ve seen.” So boycotting Israel will advance that peace process?
He also argued that Ireland risks its standing in the European Union because the bill is legally unsound. He is not wrong. The EU Commercial Treaty demands uniformity in member-state trade policies, but what Ireland is attempting to do is go behind the back of the EU to create its own trade policies. But those are Ireland’s problems. At issue for Israel is the bill’s biased smell. And we’re not alone in thinking that. In Boston – the historic home of Irish Americans – politicians, business people and others have spoken out against it, including Mayor Martin Walsh, because it’s wrong.
Ireland currently enjoys a $1 billion trade surplus with Israel. In 2018 they exported $1.2b. worth of goods to Israel, and we exported to them $105 million worth. If parliament goes through with the bill, we should do what US President Donald Trump does and make them pay, like reducing their exports. Israel does not have to accept this.
Moreover, Israel should consider – as some diplomatic officials have said is happening – closing its embassy in Dublin and using that money to open another delegation in a country more positively disposed to Israel. Perhaps another consulate in India, or China, or another embassy in Africa – Togo, Tanzania or Uganda for instance – places where they like Israel and want ties with Israel. Not Ireland.