Israeli Embassy in Ireland says proposed trade ban Bill will 'empower terrorists'
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Israeli Embassy in Ireland says proposed trade ban Bill will 'empower terrorists'

THE Israeli Embassy in Ireland has said a Bill calling for a ban on the sale of goods from Israeli-occupied territories is ‘immoral’.

The Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 was launched by Independent Senator Frances Black in January and will be voted on in the Seanad next Wednesday.

But after opposition party Fianna Fáil announced on Tuesday that they were to support the Bill, the Israeli Embassy has said doing so will only ‘empower terrorists’.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin has renewed calls for the expulsion of Israeli ambassador Zeev Bokar over the ‘massacre’ of Palestinians.

Backing

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The Occupied Territories Bill wants to make it an offence “for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory”.

Backing the Bill, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Niall Collins TD, said it had “the potential to send a strong message that the issue of illegal settlements is being taken seriously and needs to be addressed”.

However the Embassy issued a statement on Tuesday calling for the Bill to be rejected.

“The Embassy of Israel is concerned by bills that further the divisions between Israel and the Palestinians,” it said.

“Legislation, which promotes a boycott of any kind, should be rejected as it does nothing to achieve peace but rather empowers the Hamas terrorists as well as those Palestinians who refuse to come to the negotiating table.

“Closing doors will not in any way facilitate Ireland’s role and influence.

"There are direct parties to the conflict. Boycotting one of them will not do any good and is immoral.”

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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney also criticised Fianna Fáil’s decision, branding it ‘irresponsible’.

In a tweet, he wrote: “The Irish Government has always condemned construction of illegal settlements. 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 knows this - so this move is both opportunist and irresponsible.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs considers the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights, to be occupied and says the settlements, illegal under international law, threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.

Expulsion call

The Embassy’s reaction to the Bill came on the same day Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan called for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to expel the Israeli ambassador.

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“The Irish Government must give a strong and unambiguous statement that there can be no impunity for Israel’s mass killing of Palestinian citizens and its continued illegal occupation of Palestine,” said Sheehan.

“It’s long past time for An Taoiseach to expel the Israeli ambassador and officially recognise the state of Palestine as approved by the Dáil in 2014.

“There can be no further delay.”

The Occupied Territories Bill 2018 will be debated in Seanad Éireann on Wednesday, July 11 at 2.45pm.