The Occupied Territories Bill and the General Election Campaign 2020

Summary - The Occupied Territories 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 now passed eight out of ten stages in the Dáil and Seanad

The effect of the calling of an election

Importantly, the fact that a general election has since been called does not mean the end for the Bill. It will remain on the 'Order Paper' of the Dáil after the election and can pick up where it left before the Dáil was dissolved. But it is up to the newly elected Dáil to decide whether to progress it or not.

The 'Money Message': where things currently stand

You may have heard over the last year or so that the Government has planned to use a device called the 'Money Message' to block the Bill, despite the fact that it has the support of the overwhelming majority of the Dáil. As a result of the election being called, this issue, for the time being at least, has fallen to the side. It will only become live again if we end up with another minority government which refuses to support the Bill after the election.

The importance of the election for the Bill

There is overwhelming support for the Occupied Territories Bill in the Irish population. The election provides a major opportunity to remind politicians of the extent of the support for the Occupied Territories Bill within the electorate.

The aim is not to make it an election issue in the way that issues like housing, health and climate change are – that would be unrealistic. All we want is that politicians look back on this election campaign and feel reinforced in their view that their constituents want them to vote in favour of this Bill.

If, by the beginning of the next Dáil, every TD had received just fifteen expressions of support for the Bill from his/her constituents duringxfd the campaign, that would be a great success.

Political party support for the Occupied Territories Bill

‘Fianna Fáil has a long-held interest in the Middle East peace process. Fianna Fáil was the first Party to put forward the two-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East and we fully support both Israel and Palestine's right to self-determination. Fianna Fáil has supported the Occupied Territories Bill and brought it forward in the Dáil. We are committed to progressing the Bill if elected to Government. Fianna Fáil has no desire to alienate either side and we wish to see a resolution to this long running conflict and peace and stability in the Middle East.’
(Email correspondence – also in party manifesto)

'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.' (Email correspondence)

'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.' (Email correspondence and manifesto)

'We will support the bill and regularly issue statements re our support for Palestine, BDS and this bill in particular.' (Email correspondence).

Both party leaders confirmed their commitment to enactment of the Occupied Territories Bill and confirmed that it is also included within the party manifesto.

Fine Gael is the only major party that does not support the Occupied Territories Bill. What they say 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.'

Contact us

Sadaka - the Ireland Palestine Alliance
PO BOX 110
Ballyshannon PO
Co. Donegal

Sadaka logo Sadaka - the Ireland Palestine Alliance,   PO Box 110,   Ballyshannon PO,   Co. Donegal,   Ireland    Email: Sadaka logo