Muslim Times (Web Desk) – The upper house of Ireland’s parliament, known as Seanad Éireann or the Senate, has approved a bill that criminalizes importing or selling goods produced in Israeli settlements across the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018, which was passed on Wednesday, declares it an offense “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods.”
It also states that those who “assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods” would be committing a crime punishable by up to five years in prison or a €250,000 fine.
The measure now needs the endorsement of the lower house of the parliament, known as the Dáil Éireann, before the Irish president signs it into law.
Independent Irish Senator Frances Black, who had sponsored the bill, hailed its approval.
“Incredible – the Occupied Territories Bill has just passed all stages in Seanad Éireann! Ireland can be the first EU country to end trade in illegal #SettlementGoods,” she tweeted. “It now goes to Dáil for agreement, & with such huge support we’ll make this vital bill law!”The passage of the pro-Palestine measure was followed by sustained applause and a standing ovation by opposition and independent senators. However, Ireland’s minority government had opposed the bill.
Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland Ahmed Abdelrazek as well as lawyers who worked on the drafting of the bill and its sponsoring organizations were present in the Senate visitors’ gallery during its passage.
Wednesday’s vote puts Ireland on track to become the first European Union country to end trade with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Golan Heights.
Independent Senator David Norris said, “this is a great day for this country. We are the first country and I hope we won’t be the last” to break ranks with the EU.
The move, however, infuriated Israel, with the regime’s Foreign Ministry denouncing the approval of the legislation.
“The Irish Senate have chosen to give their backing to the most extreme anti-Israel piece of legislation in Europe. This bill will not help a single Palestinian,” the ministry said in a statement.
Emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s all-out support, Israel has in recent months stepped up its settlement construction activities in the occupied lands in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian lands.
In a bid to force the regime to withdraw its claim from the Palestinian territories, many countries have banned the sale of goods produced in the Israeli settlements.
The boycott is part of a larger international movement known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led international campaign launched more than a decade ago with the aim of ending the Tel Aviv regime’s occupation of Palestine.