Ireland to pass BDS law against Jewish businesses in ‘occupied territories’

An Irish law against importing goods and services from “occupied territories” was carefully worded so that it would apply only to the Jewish state, its sponsor said.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The second-largest party in Ireland’s parliament announced Wednesday that it will support a pro-BDS bill coming to a vote later this month, thus guaranteeing its passage.

Fianna Fáil will join the largest opposition party, Sinn Féin, and others in passing what is officially called the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Act of 2018. Although it does not mention Israel, or even “Palestine,” by name, its sponsor, Senator Frances Black (Independent), has openly noted that its wording was carefully formulated so that it would only apply to the Jewish state.

This means that the law, which would affect Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, does not cover areas such as Turkey’s longtime occupation of northern Cyprus or Russia’s more recent occupation of the Crimea.

As reported in JNS, a spokesman for the Irish pro-Israel group Irish4Israel said that the bill “was endorsed by trade unions and others and had the support of many smaller parties. The motivation is a naive hope to show solidarity with the Palestinians” due to “an Irish obsession to identify with the perceived underdog.”

Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins said that “passing the Occupied Territories Bill has the potential to send a strong message that the issue of illegal settlements is being taken seriously and needs to be addressed.”

‘Closing doors will not facilitate Ireland’s influence’

Israel’s embassy in Ireland blasted the bill in a statement as an “immoral” one that “will not do any good.” Legislation that promotes any kind of boycott, it continued, “should be rejected as it does nothing to achieve peace but rather empowers the Hamas terrorists as well as those Palestinians who refuse to come to the negotiating table.”

In addition, the embassy noted, “Closing doors will not in any way facilitate Ireland’s role and influence.”

An interesting point about the proposed legislation is that it runs counter to the law of the European Union (of which Ireland is a member), which states that all EU countries must have a common trade policy. In explaining why parliament should go ahead with it anyway, Black told Ireland’s TheJournal.ie, “I feel if we wait for the EU to take the lead, we could be waiting forever.”

Economic consequences for Ireland

The legislation could also result in some unintended economic consequences for Ireland, more significant than the loss of trade with Israel, which was Ireland’s 11th-largest export partner in 2016, with $1.63 billion, according to JNS.

This is because the bill criminalizing trade with companies in territories Israel liberated in 1967 could put American businesses with Irish subsidiaries (and Irish companies with subsidiaries in the USA) in a bind. They would either be contravening Irish law or violating various state laws as well as the U.S. Export Administration Regulations, which requires American firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the US does not sanction. Companies that could be affected include, for example, huge multi-nationals like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, whose trade numbers collectively far outweigh Israel’s.