There is overwhelming support for the Occupied Territories Bill in the Irish population. The 2020 elections provided a major opportunity to remind politicians of the extent of the support for the Occupied Territories Bill within the electorate. The goal of Sadaka was for politicians to look back on the election campaign and feel reinforced in their view that their constituents wanted them to vote in favour of the Bill.
As you will be aware the Occupied Territories Bill seeks to ban trade with settlements which Israel has built on the Palestinian Territory it occupies, in flagrant violation of international law. It was introduced to Seanad Éireann by Senator Frances Black early in 2018 and was passed by the Seanad in December of that year. In January 2019, Fianna Fáil introduced the Bill into the Dáil where it passed its first vote with the support of the Green Party, Labour, Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats, Solidarity / People Before Profit and a host of independents. Three Government Ministers abstained from the vote. Fine Gael was the only party to vote against the Bill. It then went for detailed review to the Dáil Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade, which heard from expert testimony over several months and again, on the 12th December, voted in favour of its progression to the next stage of the Dáil. It has passed eight out of ten stages in the Dáil and Seanad.
Political party support for the Occupied Territories Bill at the time of the 2020 election
At the time of the 2020 election, Fianna Fail adopted a supportive position and included the Occupied Territories Bill in its party manifesto and brought this commitment right through to the final stages of the joint Programme for Government which they negotiated with Fine Gael and The Green Party. However, despite this initial support, it was dropped at the last stage of those negotiations.
‘We support an immediate recognition of the State of Palestine and an end to arms trading with Israel, a ban on settlement goods, an end to the use of military detention for children and an end to the blockade and closure of Gaza’. (From manifesto)
(The Labour Party) confirm(s) ‘that Labour will vote to pass the Occupied Territories Bill into law at an early stage. Labour voted for it, and spoke strongly in favour of it….Brendan Howlin….confirmed that (Labour) will absolutely confirm publicly our support for this.’
‘Sinn Féin will continue to support the Occupied Territories Bill. We are committed to ensuring that the Bill becomes law and will work towards this end in the next Dáil. We can also confirm that we will be publicly committing to supporting the Occupied Territories Bill in writing in our manifesto.’
People Before Profit
‘We will support the bill and regularly issue statements re our support for Palestine, BDS and this bill in particular.’
Both party leaders confirmed their commitment to enactment of the Occupied Territories Bill and confirmed that it was also included within the party manifesto.
Fine Gael is the only major party that did not support the Occupied Territories Bill. What they said is ‘Fine Gael stands ready to recognise the State of Palestine, if and when we believe it would be helpful in achieving a free, sovereign, democratic and sustainable Palestinian State, or if it advances the peace process in that direction.’