In a truly historic moment for Palestine, on Thursday January 24th 2019, the Lower House of the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann) voted by 78 votes to 45 in favour of the Occupied Territories Bill. The Upper House (Seanad Éireann) already passed the Bill in December 2018. If enacted, the Bill will ban the sale of goods and services originating in illegal Israeli settlements established on stolen Palestinian land.
“This is about doing the right thing at the right time and taking the lead.”
Niall Collins TD, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs
On Thursday January 24th 2019, the Lower House of the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann) voted by 78 votes to 45 in favour of the Occupied Territories Bill.
78 – 45! An extraordinary majority of the vote in Dáil Éireann in support of the Occupied Territories Bill. Huge congratulations to Niall Collins TD and his colleagues in Fianna Fáil, to Sinn Féin, Labour, the Green Party, Social Democrats, People Before Profit / Solidarity and the range of Independent TDs who voted for the Bill. Significantly, three Government Ministers abstained, choosing not to support the Government in its opposition to the Bill. We are so proud of your representation of the will of the Irish people.
This is a major step in challenging Israel’s impunity in its daily breaches of international law. The vote in favour of the Bill represents the strongest possible statement that Ireland as a nation will not stand idly by while Israel commits war crimes against the Palestinian people.
The Occupied Territories Bill was introduced to the Dáil on Wednesday, 23rd January, by Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Niall Collins TD and supported by all political parties (except Fine Gael) as well as by a large number of independents. There were many excellent contributions to the debate, a transcript of which is available here.
What happens next?
Without the votes to defeat it, the Government, which opposes the Bill, is now seeking to block its progress by withholding what is called a “Money Message” (more on what a Money Message entails here).
Pictured after the Dáil debate – Conor O’Neill, Policy Advisor to Senator Black; Stella Carroll, Media Officer Sadaka; Gerry Liston, Legal Officer Sadaka & GLAN; Senator Frances Black; Niall Collins T.D; Jilan Wahba, Deputy Palestininan Ambassador; Marie Crawley, Chair of Sadaka.
Amnesty International Calls for Governments to replicate Ireland’s Occupied Territories Bill Adds its Voice to the Bill!
“As well as calling on individual companies to stop doing business in and with the settlements, Amnesty is calling on governments to make this mandatory through regulation, and to introduce laws prohibiting the import of settlement goods. Each year, hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of goods produced in the settlements are exported internationally, despite the fact that most countries around the world have officially condemned the settlements as illegal under international law. In the UK, imported settlement goods include oranges, dates, spring water and halva desserts. The Irish Parliament is currently in the process of approving a landmark bill which would prohibit trade in goods and services with settlements, and Amnesty is calling on all other countries to do likewise.”
Political and Legal Arguments
Minister Simon Coveney and the Government remain opposed to the Bill. This is based on two key arguments: firstly that the Bill is not compatible with EU law and secondly that it would undermine a role he envisages Ireland might play in a resumed Middle East peace process. These positions are not tenable.
1. In response to the Government’s position on EU law, this is a legal opinion authored by Takis Tridimas, Professor of EU law at King’s College London and practising EU lawyer who is “one of the most frequently quoted academic authors by Advocates General of the European Court of Justice and, on matters of EU law, by English courts.” His opinion that the Bill is compatible with EU law is unequivocal.
2. In response to the Government position on a future peace process, this Sadaka paper outlines how the Trump Administration’s “peace plan,” in which the Tánaiste has expressed faith, is not a peace plan at all and seeks to ensure that Israel will benefit from its longstanding and systematic breaches of international law, to the extreme detriment of the Palestinian people. It also explains how the Occupied Territories Bill has the potential to play an important role in creating the conditions for a just and meaningful peace process.
3. This opinion piece, written by Gerry Liston (Legal Officer Sadaka) and published in the Irish Times (26th November 2018) provides an excellent argument as to why the Irish Government should support the Bill.