In January, Independent Senator Frances Black launched the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018. The bill passed a historic first vote in July, and returns to Seanad Éireann for the next stage in November 2018.
The bill 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 provides continued economic support through trade in settlement goods.
The legislation has been prepared with the support of Trócaire, Christian-Aid 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.
Speaking in advance of the bill’s introduction, Senator Black said:
“This is a chance for Ireland to stand up for the rights of vulnerable people – it is about respecting international law and refusing to support illegal activity and human suffering.
I have long been passionate about the struggle of the Palestinian people, which shows clearly how trade in settlement goods sustains injustice. In the occupied territories, people are forcibly kicked out of their homes, fertile farming land is seized, and the fruit and vegetables produced are then sold on Irish shelves to pay for it all. We condemn the settlements as illegal but support them economically. As international law is absolutely clear that the settlements are illegal, then the goods they produce are the proceeds of crime. We must face up to this – we cannot keep supporting breaches of international law and violations of human rights.
Six years ago the Government criticised the ‘relentless progress’ of Israeli settlements, and said they could seek an EU ban on settlement goods if matters continued to worsen. In years since then it has only gone one way, with settlements expanding, more Palestinian homes being demolished and land being confiscated. It’s clear that empty rhetoric simply has not worked, but nothing has been done. As long as we buy their stolen goods, as long as the settlements stay profitable, nothing will change. These settlements are war crimes, and it's time for Ireland to show some leadership and refuse to support them.
This bill gives us a chance to do that, and I’m looking forward resuming the debate in the coming weeks. I’m calling on all Senators to give this legislation their full support.”
The Occupied Territories Bill 2018 will return to Seanad Éireann in November 2018 and will be streamed live on Oireachtas TV. It has been co-signed by Seanad Civil Engagement Group Senators Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane, Grace O'Sullivan, Colette Kelleher and John Dolan, as well as Independent Senator David Norris.
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
For any questions contact Senator Black's office on 00(353)16183279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Image credit: Trocaire)