Ireland advances bill boycotting Israel

The Seanad gave initial approval to a bill that would boycott goods produced by Israeli companies.

By: World Israel News Staff

The Irish parliament, the Seanad, on Tuesday gave initial approval to a bill that would boycott goods produced by Israeli companies based in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 would make it a violation of Irish criminal law to purchase goods and services from Israeli companies based in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights. It would punish violators with up to five years in prison.

Independent senator Frances Black, who introduced the bill, has previously signed a letter calling for a boycott of all Israeli products and services.

Further discussion on the bill has been postponed until July at the request of Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

The Irish government representatives had said that it would oppose the bill if it was not withdrawn.

A government spokesman stated that the bill presented legal issues regarding trade in the European Union (EU) and also that the Government was “wary such a move would undermine Ireland’s position in the Middle East,” the Irish Times reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned the Irish legislative initiative, “the entire goal of which is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel,” he stated.

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“The initiative gives backing to those who seek to boycott Israel and completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice,” declared Netanyahu.

In response, Netanyahu summoned Ireland’s ambassador to Israel to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday for clarification.

Bill contravenes US, European law

Writing for The Hill, Orde Kittrie, a law professor at Arizona State University, explained that the proposed bill runs afoul of US laws and if enacted, could force US companies with Irish subsidiaries to choose between violating the Irish law or violating the US Export Administration Regulations, which require US firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the US does not sanction.

The bill would also subject companies to US state-level sanctions, violate European Union and international law, threaten Ireland’s economic links to the US, and hinder the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, some 700 US companies employ over 150,000 people in Ireland. Similarly, some 227 Irish companies employ an estimated 120,000 people in the US.

Kittrie noted that while there are several contentious occupations closer to Europe, including Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, the bill’s sponsors suggest that the Irish legislation is carefully drafted to apply only to territories connected to Israel.

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No other law prohibiting trade with Israel as a criminal offense has been enacted in other European countries.