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Irish Senate backs law banning trade with Israeli settlements

Irish Senate backs law banning trade with Israeli settlements

The "Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018" prohibits "the import and sales of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories".

The campaign organisation Avaaz hailed the "unprecedented" vote and said: "Irish citizens, trade unions and civil society like Senator Black are determined to take advantage of this momentum for sanctions to become law".

Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile described the vote as a "momentous step" towards officially banning the import of goods from illegal settlements.

Israel summoned the Irish ambassador for clarification over the proposed legislation when it was first introduced in January.

Senior Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat hailed it as a "historic" vote and a "courageous gesture", which "sends a clear message to the worldwide community and in particular to the rest of the European Union - to speak of a two-state solution is not enough without concrete measures".

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, slammed the vote, saying it has supported "populist, risky and extremist" anti-Israel boycott initiative.

Israeli settlements are illegal under worldwide law, constituting a war crime according to the global Criminal Court. There is a clear hypocrisy here: "How can we condemn the settlements as 'unambiguously illegal, ' as theft of land and resources, but happily buy the proceeds of this crime?"

Coveney said he accepted those proposing the Bill had legal advice which said it could be legal under EU law due to exceptions which can made on issues of public policy which have been used by other EU states such as Germany, but said he had written evidence from EU officials confirming that it would be illegal, and therefore that advice "could not be relied upon".

Ireland's parliament, the Seanad, will vote later on Wednesday on the landmark legislation, which has support from opposition and independent lawmakers. Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the bill may lead to conflict escalation in the Middle East.

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. Recognising this, Egan said that "Fine Gael's sole opposition to this Bill is an embarrassment".

Israel's expansion of Jewish communities beyond the Green Line has made opposition to a BDS bill more hard, Ireland's Ambassador to Israel told The Jerusalem Post.

There is global consensus on the illegality of these settlements.

Kinvara has a tradition of supporting the Palestinian people.

Saeb Erekat, Palestine Liberation Organization secretary-general, praised the move.

As such, Kittrie believes that Israel needs to do a better job in improving the country's image in Ireland.