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    Palestinians and foreigners march towards Israel's controversial separation wall between the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah and the Israeli settlement of Modiin Ilit during a demonstration against settlements in the area, on February 17, 2017

    Irish Senate Advances Bill Criminalising Trade with Illegal Israeli Settlements

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    The Republic of Ireland's upper house has passed a bill which criminalises the import and sale of goods from Israeli settlements in occupied territories.

    The Irish Senate, or Seanad Éireann, approved the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 on Wednesday, advancing Ireland to becoming the first European Union nation to oppose trade with Israel's settlements in the West Bank's occupied territories, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem al-Quds. 

    The new law will make it illegal "for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods" and punishes offenders who "assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods" with up to five years in prison or a €250,000 (£222.500) fine. 

    READ MORE: Ireland Summons Israeli Envoy Over Situation in Gaza

    In order for Irish President Michael D. Higgins to sign the bill into law, the Irish Lower House (Dáil Éireann) must endorse the legislation. 

    Who is Speaking Out?

    Senators gave a bipartisan standing ovation after the bill's passage, with Ireland's minority government opposing the motion. Several organisations and officials have voiced their support for the bill's 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," Independent Irish Senator Frances Black tweeted. 

    "It now goes to Dáil for agreement, & with such huge support we'll make this vital bill law!" 

    Palestinian Authority Ambassador to Ireland Ahmed Abdelrazek attended the Senate visitors' gallery alongside lawyers who participated in drafting the bill and other organisations.  

    "This is a great day for this country," Independent Senator David Norris said.

    "We are the first country and I hope we won't be the last [to break ranks with the EU]," Independent senator David Norris said. 

    However, Israeli officials were infuriated by the bill. "The Irish Senate (Seanad Éireann) have chosen to give their backing to the most extreme anti-Israel piece of legislation in Europe," the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement. "This bill will not help a single Palestinian and is aimed at negating the historical connection between the people of Israel and the birthplace of the Jewish people." 

    A spokesperson from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign told Sputnik that the organisation “welcomes the passing of the Occupied Territories Bill through Ireland’s Senate", adding that it was "absolutely vital" for governments to "take concrete action against Israel’s flouting of international law and human rights."

    "This decision puts Ireland on track to become the first country in the European Union to end trade with illegal Israeli settlements," the spokesperson said.

    "The UK government has declared settlements to be illegal and a barrier to peace, but has taken no meaningful action to end UK complicity," the spokesperson added. "We call on the UK government to follow Ireland’s lead and put its policies in line with its rhetoric by ending all UK trade with illegal settlements.”

    Joining Forces

    Ireland has joined Chile in efforts to legislate the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, after the National Congress of Chile passed a resolution on 29 November urging the Latin American country's government to "forbid the entry of products manufactured and coming from Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territory," with 99 votes for and only 7 against the motion. Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee praised the resolution. 

    "We are glad that the Chilean Congress has marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People with concrete measures of solidarity and respect for international law," Mr. Nawajaa said in a statement. "We urge the Chilean government to respect the Congress resolution and make sure that no products from illegal Israeli settlements are allowed into the country."

    Following US president Donald Trump's embassy move to Jerusalem, Israel has continued expanding construction of settlements across Palestine's occupied territories, despite the United Nations Security Council adopting Resolution 2334 in 2016, which recognises Israel as an "occupying Power" and condemns the nation's expansion of territories beyond the 1967 borders, where roughly 600,000 Israelis reside in 230 illegal settlements.

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    Tags:
    BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, human rights abuse, legislation, law, bill, human rights, trade, boycott, Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK, United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR), UN Security Council (UNSC), Irish Parliament, Michael D. Higgins, Republic of Ireland, Ireland
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