Seanad votes in favour of occupied territories bill as Israel slams 'extremist' proposals

The bill would ban the import of goods from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank

Seanad votes in favour of occupied territories bill as Israel slams 'extremist' proposals

Palestinian farmer Muna al-Taneeb, from the West Bank, with Irish senator Frances Black outside Leinster House. Picture by: Crispin Rodwell/AP/Press Association Images

A bill which would ban imports from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank has passed the latest stage in the Seanad.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill has now passed its second stage reading.

It passed with 25 votes in favour versus 20 against, with the Government opposing the bill.

The bill proposes banning the import of goods produced in any illegal settlements in occupied territories.

It would not ban import of all Israeli products, only those produced in "settlements established beyond its borders".

The proposed legislation must still pass through the remaining stages in the Dáil and Seanad.

Palestinian human rights campaigners said they hoped the vote would "inspire other sympathetic states to take similar measures".

However, the Israeli government has sharply criticised the bill.

In a statement today, the country's foreign affairs ministry said: "The Irish Senate has given its support to a populist, dangerous and extremist anti-Israel boycott initiative that hurts the chances of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians; it will have a negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East. 

"The Irish Senate's initiative [...] will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott."

'Historic vote'

Senator Frances Black, meanwhile, called the vote 'historic', while her colleague Lynn Ruane called it an "important piece of legislation for the Palestinian people".

Senator Black - who earlier today joined Palestinian farmers outside Leinster House - said: "I'm delighted to see the Bill pass today. The level of support is testament to the fact that this is not a radical ask - we are simply saying that, if we are sure that certain goods have been produced as a result of war crimes, we should not be trading in them.

"To me, that is the bare minimum that should be expected of an EU Member State and a country proudly committed to justice and human rights. Otherwise there is a clear hypocrisy - how can we condemn the settlements as illegal, as theft of land and resources, but happily trade in the proceeds of this crime?"

Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign also 'warmly welcomed' today's vote, saying "Ireland is making history and leading the way in its solidarity with the Palestinian people".

Several international bodies, including the EU and UN, have said the expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law.