The Civil Engagement Group introduce bill to ban trade with illegal settlements

On Tuesday January 30th, the Civil Engagement Group brought the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill to the Seanad which sought to ban trade in goods and services from illegal settlements in occupied territories. While Minister Coveney expressed his commitment to the aims of the bill but he was unwilling to support it at this time. As a result, we agreed to adjourn the debate until July when we will push for a  vote. 

The important humanitarian bill which has been championed by Senator Frances Black would effectively ban trade in all goods and services from settlements identified as illegal by the International Court of Justice. Based on the current rulings of the ICJ, this would apply exclusively to illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine and the Golan Heights, but it could be extended if the court were to rule about other territories in the future. 

The bill would not boycott Israeli goods or trade. It would only apply to produce from settlements which are internationally recognised as illegal, including by the Irish government. Senator Higgins stated that the current policy of the Irish government is supporting and sustaining illegal Israeli settlements through ongoing trade with the occupied territories. Banning trade in these goods and services is an effective and moderate way of upholding international law. 

Senator Higgins emphasised that the ban in settlement goods is compliant with both EU trade rules and the rules of the WTO. IN both cases illegal settlements are explicitly outside the scope of free trade agreements. Further, the bill has been thoroughly scrutinised by experts in international law to ensure that it can be progressed by the Seanad with full confidence in its legality. 

Ireland has, in the past, shown leadership in supporting peace and justice in Israel and Palestine. Ireland showed leadership in the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and in refuting President Trump's intention to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Senator Higgins argued that the Minister cannot expect to progress this issue through consensus but must show leadership and diplomatic bravery. 

Senator Higgins told the Minister that she looks forward to the bill returning to the House and will be seeking support from all Oireachtas colleagues and the Minister when it does. 

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