Occupied Territories Bill passes in Dáil despite government opposition

Occupied Territories Bill passes in Dáil despite government opposition

A BILL that would ban trade on goods produced in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories has passed the second stage in the Dáil.

The Government had opposed the Occupied Territories Bill, with Tánaiste Simon Coveney saying it will ‘do serious damage to Ireland’.

However the government lost the vote by 78 votes to 45 votes, with three abstentions.

The Bill, first introduced in the Seanad by Independent Senator Frances Black, seeks to ban the importation or sale of goods or services originating in an occupied territory.

'Reasonable and right'

On Thursday, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald called on the government to support the Bill through all stages in the Oireachtas.

“The people of Palestine look to Ireland for support,” she said.

“They do so because our nation is no stranger to colonialisation and to conflict and they expect us to stand by them. This Bill is reasonable and right.

“I am calling on the government to do the right thing – drop their opposition to this Bill and allow its progression through the Oireachtas.”

However while Foreign Affairs Minister Coveney said the Bill’s authors were well intentioned, he told the Dáil it was not the long-term answer to finding a two-state solution.

'Momentary consolation'

“No Member of this house attaches greater importance than I do to bringing Ireland’s influence to bear to help end the occupation of the Palestinian territory, to promote a two-state solution that works for Israel and Palestine, and to deliver a sustainable peace after decades of conflict,” he said.

“However, speaking on behalf of the Government, I am unable to agree that the Bill is the right way forward.”

Mr Coveney said that the Bill was contrary to EU law and would pose jurisdictional issues for Irish companies trading internationally.

He also said that supporting the Bill would weaken Ireland’s influence within the UN and EU in a search for a solution.

“Ultimately, despite being well and sincerely intentioned by its original authors, this Bill will do serious damage to Ireland and bring only momentary consolation to Palestinians,” said Mr Coveney.