The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 has today passed its crucial Second Stage vote in the Lower House of the Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann. TDs supported the Bill by a margin of 78 votes in favour to 45 votes against.
Having already been passed in full by the Upper House of the Irish Parliament, Seanad Éireann, it was introduced to the Dáil on Senator Black's behalf by Fianna Fáil Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Deputy Niall Collins, with the support of the the Green Party, the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, Solidarity-PBP, and a number of Independents. This gives it strong majority support in both Houses.
Having been approved in principle by the Dáil, the Bill will now proceed to Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee for detailed scrutiny and assessment. This will take place over the coming months, and should be completed shortly after the parliamentary summer recess.
Speaking after the Bill's passage, Senator Black said:
"This is an historic occasion, and I’m delighted to see both Seanad Éireann and Dáil Éireann back this Bill so strongly. The huge level of cross-party support is testament to the fact that this is not a radical ask – we are simply saying that, if we know certain goods have been produced as a result of war crimes, we should not be trading in them. Otherwise there’s a clear hypocrisy. How can we condemn the settlements as illegal, as theft of land and resources, but happily trade in the proceeds of this crime?
I saw the impact of settlement expansion myself when I visited the West Bank last year. I saw the restrictions on movement, the separate roads, the destruction of people's homes and the devastating human rights conditions, which are worsening daily. We cannot in good conscience look at this situation, at the unforgivable human cost, and say that decades of empty condemnation are enough. It should summon in us a deep sense of injustice and anger that demands meaningful action against occupation."
Senator Black's speech as the Bill cleared the Seanad
Background to the bill
The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories. Such settlements are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground. Despite this, Ireland and other EU Member States provide continued economic support through trade in settlement goods.
The legislation has been prepared with the support of Trócaire, Christian-Aid, Amnesty International and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), and applies to settlements in occupied territories where there is clear international legal consensus that they violate international law. The clearest current example is the Israeli occupation and expansion of settlements in the Palestinian ‘West Bank’, which have been repeatedly condemned as illegal by the UN, EU, the International Court of Justice and the Irish Government.
A copy of the bill is available here: Occupied Territories Bill 2018
A short explanatory note on the bill’s main provisions is available here: Briefing Note - Occupied Territories Bill 2018
Having been passed in full by Seanad Éireann, and passed its Second Stage vote in Dáil Éireann, the Bill now proceeds to the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs for detailed scrutiny and assessment. This will take place over the coming months, and should be completed towards the end of the summer.
For any questions contact Senator Black's office at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Image credit: Trócaire)