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Ireland edges closer to ban on goods from Israel's illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories

IRELAND has edged a step closer to becoming the first European Union country to ban the import or sale of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 was passed in Ireland’s upper house yesterday declaring it a criminal act “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods.”

Under the law, those who do or “assist another person” would face up to five years in prison or a €250,000 (£223,000) fine.

Senators rose in a standing ovation and applause after the Bill was passed in the Seanad Eireann meaning it will be presented in the Dail next year for approval.

The Irish government opposed the bill, claiming it is against EU trade legislation. It is expected to block it using procedural measures when it is debated in parliament.

Independent Senator Frances O’Black, who presented the bill said: “Incredible. The Occupied Territories bill has just passed all stages in Seanad Eireann. Ireland can be the first EU country to end trade in illegal settlements.”

She thanked opposition parties Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, Labour and the Green Party along with Independent senators “for standing firmly for international law and human rights. I’m delighted that Niall Collins will bring Settlement Goods into the Dail next year.”

Sinn Fein Senator and former mayor of Belfast Niall O’Donnghaile said: “History has been made in the Seanad tonight. Once again Ireland stands as a beacon of light for international justice, human rights and solidarity and proudly stands against apartheid, injustice and war crimes.”

Irish parliamentarians from Fianna Fail, whose support is crucial for the passage of the Bill, had been lobbied earlier this year not to vote for it by both the US State Department and its embassy in Dublin.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned the Bill in a statement: “The Irish Senate has chosen to give its backing to the most extreme anti-Israel piece of legislation in Europe. This Bill will not help a single Palestinian.”

But Sinn Fein MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey welcomed the passage of the Bill, saying: “Absolutely brilliant. Hopefully others will follow this leadership.”

Around 600,000 Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories, with many countries banning the sale and import of goods produced there in a bid to get Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders.

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