Ireland scraps bill banning Israeli goods from occupied lands, under pressure from Netanyahu

Ireland scraps bill banning Israeli goods from occupied lands, under pressure from Netanyahu
The Irish government also opposed the bill introduced by independent lawmaker Frances Black.
2 min read
31 January, 2018
Netanyahu addressing the UN General Assembly in 2016 [Getty]

Ireland has scrapped a private member’s bill outlawing the import of goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank just hours after it was introduced on Tuesday, reported The Times of Israel.

The bill, which was introduced by Independent Senator Frances Black, would have made Ireland the first European country to ban settlement products – though several countries already label them.

It is unclear if the bill will be brought to a vote again.

There are at least 126 settlements in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem, according to a September 2016 report from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.

A group of prominent Israelis – including former Knesset members, legal experts, ex-ambassadors, artists and activists – had petitioned the Irish legislature to support the bill.

“We, converned citizens of Israel urge Ireland to support any legislation that will help enforce differentiation between Israel per se and the settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” read the note, published in the Irish Times.

The European Union in 2015 approved guidelines to label settlement products – it said the move was meant to differentiate between Israel, a close trade partner, and the settlements, which are illegal.

The Irish bill makes a similar distinction, but Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said it would harm his country and bolster the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Netanyahu asked his foreign ministry to summon the Irish ambassador in Israel, Alison Kelly, just hours after the bill was debated in Ireland’s senate.

Two other European countries – Poland and Denmark – had their ambassadors summoned this week for similar clarifications.