After Netanyahu Summons Ambassador, Irish Senate Postpones Debate on Bill Blocking Israeli Settlement Goods

A group of Israeli activists, among them former members of Knesset, legal experts, ex-ambassadors, artists and academics, sent a written petition to the Irish parliament, asking it to support the bill

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Knesset meeting, Jerusalem, January 21, 2018.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Knesset meeting, Jerusalem, January 21, 2018.Credit: Alex Kolomoisky
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Tuesday new legislation in Ireland that could forbid the import and sale of products from Israeli settlements. Netanyahu also instructed the Foreign Ministry to summon the Irish ambassador in Israel to clarify the matter and express Israel's disatisfaction on the matter.

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The meeting with the Irish ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, will be held on Wednesday. The Danish ambassador to Israel was also summoned to the Foreign Ministry on a similar matter this week. All told, three European ambassadors to Israel were summoned to the Foreign Ministry for clarifications this week: Those from Poland, Denmark and Ireland.

The Irish senate debated the bill on Tuesday. Beyond outlawing the import or sale of such products, it would also ban services originating from the occupied territories.

The senate decided that debates regarding the bill will be formally adjourned until July. "This will allow the Irish government five months to progress a diplomatic approach and action at European Union level. It also gives more time for improvements, amendments and changes to the bill," people involved in the matter told Haaretz.

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A group of Israeli activists, among them former members of Knesset, legal experts, ex-ambassadors, artists and academics, sent a written petition to the Irish parliament, asking it to support the bill.

In his statement, Netanyahu said that the initiative gives backing to those who seek to boycott Israel and completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice.

The time has come that those Israelis who sign such declarations understand that the idea of boycotting goods from the settlements is not the only goal of the supporters of the BDS movement, said Dan Diker, the director of the Political Warfare Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in a statement attached to Netanyahu comments.

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The BDS movement’s goal, as expressed by its founder Omar Barghouti, is to "reject the idea of a Jewish state in any part of Palestine." BDS has no interest in a small Palestinian state outside the 1967 borders, but wants to replace the Jewish state inside the 1948 borders too, he added. Barghouti, it noted, was received with great honor in July 2017 by Irish president Michael Higgins.

Israelis voice support

“We, concerned 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 letter, which was published in The Irish Times. “The Israeli occupation of the territories beyond the 1967 borders, ongoing for more than 50 years with no end in sight, is not only unjust but also stands in violation of numerous UN resolutions.”

The letter ends, “As people who care deeply for Israel’s future and long for our country to live in peace with its neighbors, we urge you to support the aforementioned Bill.”

Former lawmaker Uri Avnery topped the list of signatories, which included former ambassadors Elie Barnavi, Ilan Baruch and Alon Liel; former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair; former MKs Roman Bronfman, Avraham Burg, Naomi Chazan, Tzali Reshef and Yael Dayan; and artists Dani Karavan, Alex Levac, David Tartakover and Miki Kratsman.

The bill references the Fourth Geneva Convention and calls "to make it an offence for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances."

The bill would not only apply to Israeli settlements, but to all illegal settlements around the world. It would therefore theoretically pertain to Western Sahara, northern Cyprus and Crimea.

Last week, the Danish parliament voted to exclude West Bank settlements from bilateral agreements with Israel. In addition, it was decided that the government would strengthen guidelines against investing in projects over the Green Line by both public and private bodies.

The move saw Denmark adopt UN Resolution 2334, wherein settlements are defined as a violation of international law, and a distinction is made between Israel within the Green Line and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The same view is held by the EU in all multilateral agreements with Israel.

In addition, the resolution expresses support for a "black list" of Israeli companies operating in the territories being formulated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.



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