Israel summons Irish ambassador over Seanad occupied territories bill

The bill seeks to block trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories

Israel summons Irish ambassador over Seanad occupied territories bill

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem in July 2017 | Image: Department of Foreign Affairs

Israel has summoned the Irish ambassador over a Seanad bill that would effectively prohibit trade with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The bill, brought forward by Senator Frances Black, seeks to block the “import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories.”

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu has ‘strongly condemned’ the legislation - warning that its entire goal is to harm the State of Israel.

In a statement, the Israeli Embassy in Dublin said the initiative gives backing to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and “completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu has summoned the Irish Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kiely to the country’s foreign ministry to discuss the matter.

International law

Earlier this month, the Tánaiste Simon Coveney condemned Israeli plans to construct over 1,100 new settlement units warning that “the construction of settlements in occupied territory is unquestionably illegal under international law.”

Mr Coveney spoke in the Seanad this evening for the second stage debate of Ms Black’s Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018.

He said that Ireland’s approach to Middle East should be focused on intensive diplomacy.

He said Ireland would continue to support the Palestinian Authority and Palestinians generally – but recommended that the Government oppose the bill.

Human rights

Introducing the bill this afternoon, Senator Black said: “This is a chance for Ireland to stand up for the rights of vulnerable people – it is about respecting international law and refusing to support illegal activity and human suffering.”

“We condemn the settlements as illegal but support them economically,” she said.

“As international law is absolutely clear that the settlements are illegal, then the goods they produce are the proceeds of crime.

“We must face up to this – we cannot keep supporting breaches of international law and violations of human rights.”

The bill has the support of Sinn Féin and Labour.