Israel summons Irish envoy as bill criminalizing settlement trade advances

Netanyahu’s office calls legislation ‘anti-Semitic’ as lower house pushes ahead with measure despite concerns of Israel cutting ties with Dublin

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

The lower house of Ireland’s Parliament advanced a bill on Thursday that would criminalize the import or sale of Israeli goods originating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, sparking a diplomatic crisis with Jerusalem.

A fuming Israel said it was summoning Dublin’s ambassador for a reprimand Friday, calling the vote a “disgrace.”

“Israel is outraged over the legislation against it in the Dail which is indicative of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism,” the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign minister, said in a statement.

Earlier, the Foreign Ministry called the vote “an expression of pure hostility on the part of its initiators,” and urged it be condemned.

“This is a clear expression of obsessive discrimination that should be rejected with disgust,” the ministry said in a statement.

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.

A Palestinian woman sorts dates on November 11, 2015 at an Israeli-owned factory in the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank. There are 6000-12000 Palestinians working for Israeli agriculture companies in the Jordan Valley. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

The proposed legislation declares it an offense “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods.”

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.

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.

The Irish Senate debating a bill that would ban trade with settlement goods, July 11, 2018 (screenshot:

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.

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