Seanad vote on settlements goods from Israel postponed; Israel summon Irish ambassador

Seanad vote on settlements goods from Israel postponed; Israel summon Irish ambassador

The Seanad last night postponed a vote on a bill that proposed a ban on the import and sale of products from Israeli settlements as well as the services originating from the occupied territories.

Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, who attended the second reading of Frances Black’s Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 welcomed the presence of the Palestinian ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek in the public gallery but said that the Government opposed the Bill.

The Bill's postponement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday told his country's Foreign Ministry to summon the Irish ambassador in Israel.

Ireland's ambassador, Alison Kelly, is expected to attend Israel's Foreign Ministry later today following Mr Netanyahu's condemnation of the Irish bill, saying it seeks to harm the Israeli regime.

“The initiative gives backing to those who seek to boycott Israel and completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement released yesterday.

RTE report the Tanaiste as saying last night that Ireland's approach on the Middle East needs to constantly be reassessed and that his view was Ireland's approach to helping negotiate a fair two state solution should be focused on intensive diplomacy and on straight blunt discussion.

Mr Coveney went on to say the expansion of Israeli settlements was unjust, provocative and undermined Israel's commitment to a peaceful solution

The Tanaiste suggested such settlements were unambiguously illegal under international law and violated the rights of the occupied population.

The Minister went on to say the Government's efforts should be focused on a unified EU position which could be more persuasive with an Israeli government and insisted that in the interim the Government would continue to support the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinians generally.

Speaking last night Senator Black said the Bill was a chance for Ireland to make a strong statement on the 'Occupied Territories' and thanked the Tánaiste for his engagement before agreeing to an adjournment of the Bill.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of previous Palestinian territories.

If passed the bill would have made Ireland the first European country to ban settlement products

News sites in the Middle East have directly linked the Bill's postponement to Mr Netanyahu's intervention.

Times of Israel report that "in a surprise move, the Irish Senate postponed voting on a bill that sought to criminalize the import and sale of settlements goods, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply criticised the proposed legislation."

AhlulBayt news agency report that 'under pressure from the Tel Aviv regime, the Irish Senate has postponed a vote on a bill that forbids the import and sale of products from Israeli settlements as well as the services originating from the occupied territories.'

The proposed Bill had received strong support from Irish aid and development agencies including Trocaire and Christian Aid.

The Bill has been adjourned until July.

- Digital Desk

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