Knesset speaker scraps MKs’ mission to Ireland over boycott legislation
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Knesset speaker scraps MKs’ mission to Ireland over boycott legislation

Yuli Edelstein nixes March parliamentary delegation in snub over Dublin’s stance on the import of West Bank products

Pro-Israel supporters protesting outside the Irish parliament January 24, 2019, in opposition to a private member's bill that would criminalize the import and sale of settlements goods to Ireland. (Twitter)
Pro-Israel supporters protesting outside the Irish parliament January 24, 2019, in opposition to a private member's bill that would criminalize the import and sale of settlements goods to Ireland. (Twitter)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Monday canceled an official Israeli parliamentary delegation to Ireland in retaliation for an Irish bill that seeks to ban the import of goods produced in areas captured by Israel in 1967.

The delegation of Knesset members Eyal Ben Reuven (Hatnua) and Akram Hasson (Kulanu) was due to travel in March, according to a statement issued by Edelstein’s office on Monday.

The lower house of Ireland’s Parliament advanced a bill January 24 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.”

“It is not surprising that Ireland is again seeking to harm and boycott Israel,” Edelstein said.

“Many countries request to be hosted by the Knesset and invite Knesset members to visit them,” Edelstein added. “We would be happy to utilize the time to reach a country that wants to cooperate with the entire State of Israel and not only with parts of it, instead of wasting our time on a country that is obsessively seeking ways to hurt it.”

Senator Frances Black at an Irish Senate discussion of her bill to ban settlement goods, November 28, 2018 (screen shot Irish Senate)

The proposed Irish legislation — a private member bill — declares it an offense “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods.”

The Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 moved to Ireland’s lower house of parliament, known as the Dáil Éireann, where it passed second reading by a vote of 78-45. The bill will have to pass three more rounds of debates before Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins would sign it into law.

The bill has been moving through the Irish parliamentary system for over a year. Speaking during the debate on the bill, Ireland’s foreign affairs and trade minister, Simon Coveney, said passing the bill would have negative legal, political and practical effects.

Coveney warned that while he supported actions against the settlements and wanted a two-state solution, the bill contravened existing EU trade laws, would damage Ireland’s position as an interlocutor on Middle East issues, and place Irish companies in a precarious position. He pointed out that violating EU trade laws would expose Ireland to heavy fines, and Irish-American companies might be in violation of American laws that forbid companies based in the US from cooperating with trade bans on Israel.

“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,” Coveney said.

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