By a narrow 20-25 vote, the Irish Senate has passed a bill that bans the import of products from West Bank settlements.
The bill is unprecedented for an EU member state but is not as yet law.
The Senate bill envisions the prohibition of dealing in goods and services originating from Israeli settlements in Ireland. Besides Israeli settlements, the bill also forbids imports from the Crimea and Western Sahara.
This is the first bill of its kind in the EU. To become law, it must be ratified by the lower house of parliament. That is not likely to happen, as the ruling Fine Gael Irish government wants an EU response rather than unilateral measures.
The Irish foreign ministry accused the Senate of “a populist, dangerous and extremist anti-Israel boycott.” Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the bill may lead to conflict escalation in the Middle East. “The absurd in the Irish Senate’s initiative is that it will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott,” Coveney said.
All parties except the ruling Fine Gael endorsed the bill.
Ireland imports a number of agricultural and cosmetic settlement products, including those produced by Ahava.
The bill only targets products made beyond the Green Line.
In 2005, the European Union stipulated that products originating in areas beyond Israel’s pre-1967 lines may not benefit from the EU-Israel Free Trade Agreement. In 2015, the EU demanded Israel must label products originating from settlements.
The Israeli foreign ministry said the bill would have a negative impact on diplomatic processes and said it is monitoring the development of the bill before it responds; the Palestine Liberation Organization praised the move as “courageous.”