Irish envoy given ‘angry rebuke’ over bill outlawing settlement goods

Foreign Ministry warns ‘hypocritical and anti-Semitic’ legislation would have serious repercussions for Israel-Ireland ties if passed

Screen capture from video of Irish Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly. (YouTube)
Screen capture from video of Irish Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly. (YouTube)

The Foreign Ministry reprimanded Ireland’s envoy to Israel on Friday following the advancement of an Irish bill criminalizing Israeli products from areas captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The ministry said Ambassador Alison Kelly was given an “angry rebuke” over the “scandalous” bill, which was passed by the lower house of Ireland’s parliament on Thursday.

“It was clarified to the ambassador that the hypocritical and anti-Semitic legislation will have serious ramifications for Israel-Ireland relations and [Ireland’s] status in the region, should it be advanced,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“It would be better for Ireland to deal with dark dictatorships and terror groups instead of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” the statement added.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The bill would apply to Israeli goods from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Jordan and Syria in the Six Day War.

The measure, introduced by the conservative Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party would make illegal “the import and sales of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories.” Sinn Fein, a left-wing party, supported the bill.

The Dail, Ireland’s lower house, passed the measure by a vote of 78-45 with three abstentions. The bill must still pass three more stages before becoming law, according to reports.

Likewise, those who “assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods” would be committing a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, if the bill were to become law.

In this photo from February 11, 2014, Israeli workers inspect barrels in a winery in the West Bank settlement of Psagot. (AP/Dan Balilty)

During the debate over the bill, some lawmakers in Dublin suggested that passage of the legislation would lead Israel to close its embassy in Dublin and also could affect Ireland-US relations.

Fianna Fáil foreign affairs spokesman Niall Collins told the Irish Independent ahead of the vote that his party has become “increasingly concerned about the actions of Israel and its continued and blatant disregard for international law.”

He said the bill would not harm trade in Israeli goods, just goods produced in the settlements.

The upper house of the Irish Parliament, the Seanad, passed the so-called Occupied Territories Bill in December.

In November, Independent Senator Frances Black, who proposed the legislation, said it did not single out Israel and mentioned the Western Sahara as another possible target.

On Thursday, she tweeted an emoji of a Palestinian flag to celebrate the vote.

While Israel’s Foreign Ministry expressed anger at the bill as it advanced through Seanad, in private conversation Israeli officials appeared unperturbed, estimating that the government in Dublin will ultimately prevent the legislation from coming into force, even, if need be, blocking it technically from advancing.

The government has said it opposes the bill as banning goods is the sole prerogative of the European Union.

JTA contributed to this report.

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