The Times of Israel quoted Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney who tweeted Tuesday, “The Irish Government has always condemned construction of illegal settlement. But this Bill asks Irish govt to do something it is not legally empowered to do — trade is an EU competence, not an Irish one. FF [Fianna Fáil — The Republican Party] knows this — so this move is both opportunist and irresponsible.”
The sponsor of the bill, Independent Senator Frances Black, replied that she disagreed with Coveney’s assessment, citing two legal opinions that support her view. “I believe if we wait for EU leadership, we could be waiting forever,” she added.
Those who “assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods” could serve up to five years in prison if the bill would pass.
The vote, scheduled for July 11, would only be the first stage, it would still have to clear several additional steps before becoming law.
“The bill seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories,” Black said in a statement from June 25.
“Such settlements are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground. Despite this, Ireland provides continued economic support through trade in settlement goods.”
While the bill does not mention Israel and the Palestinian territories, critics have charged that seems to have focused only on the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Black also stated, “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.
“We condemn the settlements as illegal but support them economically. As international law is absolutely clear that the settlements are illegal, then the goods they produce are the proceeds of crime. We must face up to this – we cannot keep supporting breaches of international law and violations of human rights.”