Ireland’s senate voted on Wednesday evening in favour of bill banning importation of products from Israeli settlements built in occupied Palestinian land. The country became first EU nation to enforce such boycott.
The bill, which has faced angry Israeli opposition, prohibits “trade with and economic support for illegal settlements in territories deemed occupied under international law.”
Frances Black, the independent senator who sponsored the bill, said in a statement before the vote that “trade in settlement goods sustains injustice.”
“In the occupied territories, people are forcibly kicked out of their homes, fertile farming land is seized, and the fruit and vegetables produced are then sold on Irish shelves to pay for it all,” she said.
“These settlements are war crimes, and it’s time for Ireland to show some leadership and refuse to support them.”
The bill does not name Israel but instead refers to an “occupying power” and “illegal settler.”
In 2015, the EU issued guidelines for the labelling of products from Israeli settlements, which it considers illegal and says are an obstacle to peace.
Having been approved in the upper house of the Irish parliament, the Seanad, the legislation will now need to get through more Seanad votes and then the lower house before becoming law.
At Israel’s urging, a previously scheduled vote in January was delayed at the Irish government’s request. Israel’s foreign ministry, which is headed by the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had summoned Ireland’s ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, at the time.
Israeli occupation state occupied the Palestinian West Bank in 1967. Around 800,000 illegal Israeli Jewish settlers live in the occupied territory.
Estimates put the value of settlement-made products to Ireland at between only €500,000 to €1m annually but proponents of the bill say it could chart a path for other EU states to follow.
Netanyahu has denounced the bill, saying it “gives a tailwind to those who seek to boycott Israel and is utterly contrary to the principles of free trade and justice.”