Knesset speaker cancels delegation to Ireland over BDS bill

Yuli Edelstein canceled a Knesset delegation to Ireland over an Irish bill that would criminalize business beyond the Green Line.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein canceled a scheduled visit to Ireland by an official Knesset delegation in protest over Ireland’s proposed law that would ban the importation of products from Judea, Samaria, and other areas outside of the 1967 borders.

On Jan. 25, Irish lawmakers voted 78-45 to advance a bill to prevent Ireland from importing products from any business holders or companies in eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, or Gaza — all of which they deem to be “illegally occupied” by Israelis.

If the bill passes into law, Ireland will become the “first European Union country to criminalize commercial activity beyond the 1967 lines,” according to The Jerusalem Post, imposing jail time of up to five years and considerable fines on Irish nationals.

“It’s not surprising that Ireland is again seeking to harm and boycott Israel. A law that boycotts Judea and Samaria has serious implications  for relations between the two countries. So I ordered the delegation of Knesset members canceled,” Edelstein told Israel’s Channel 12.

“We’ll be happy to use the time to deal with a country that wants to cooperate with the entire State of Israel and not just parts of it, instead of wasting our time with a country that is obsessively seeking ways to harm it,” he said.

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The Knesset delegation, due to leave in March, was to include Knesset Members Eyal Ben Reuven and Akram Hasson. They were scheduled to meet with the speaker of the Irish parliament and the heads of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees. “It was a high-profile delegation that was planned out in advance, and the meetings were considered significant,” Channel 12 reports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also acting foreign minister, called in Irish Ambassador to Israel Alison Kelly to reprimand her. Kelly said she opposed the bill.

Netanyahu’s office described the bill as “indicative of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism.”

“Instead of Ireland condemning Syria for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians, Turkey for the occupation of northern Cyprus and the terrorist organizations for murdering thousands of Israelis, it attacks Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” Netanyahu’s office said.