Ireland – again

Irish Senator Proposes Bill to Ban Goods from Judea & Samaria

Jacqueline Lillian Mulhern

Frances Black, a talented singer from a well-known family of musicians, has decided that her musical background prepares her to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Frances BlackShe now serves as an independent senator in the Republic of Ireland’s parliament, but the professional bio on the politician’s website mentions her music first and in detail. What, if any, accomplishments she has made as a senator are not mentioned.

Despite this glaring dearth of political knowledge, she has proposed a bill to ban the import of goods made by Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria.

The Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 is scheduled for debate on 31st January. It’s an odd title as it proposes not to control but to boycott “the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories.”

There are a few problems with this proposed bill, as outlined in a poorly written press release from Black’s office that doesn’t even mention Israel until the third paragraph. Few items are imported from Judea and Samaria to Ireland. A few beauty products, wine and a variety of fruits and vegetables are seen on shelves of Irish stores, but not much otherwise.

Black cannot explain why these products are an obstacle to Middle East peace. If Israeli-owned businesses lost money and were forced to let go of their Arab employees then residents of the Palestinian Authority would be hurt by a boycott. Irish citizens who stay in hotels or purchase goods or services in disputed areas such as East Jerusalem would be breaking the law. It is not clear how this penalty would be enforced.

Judea and Samaria is often mislabeled as the “West Bank” although it ceased to be the West Bank of Jordan when Jordan withdrew following its defeat in the 1967 war with Israel. The San Remo Agreement of 1920 recognizes the right of Jews to live in that area. Ownership of these areas is disputed by international bodies and it is wrong for Black’s bill to call Israeli presence a violation of international law.

Anti-Israel groups such as the Catholic charity Trocaire, Christian Aid and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions are co-authors of the bill, which is also endorsed by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC). A boycott of everything Israeli is the ultimate goal of the IPSC, a small but vocal group that was recently banned from entry to Israel by the Israeli government.

If this bill passes, it is a step toward a total boycott of Israel in Ireland. It is not clear if pro-Israel voices will be heard during the debate as several senators besides Black are known Israel haters.

I’m Irish what can I do?

From Irish4Irsrael

On Tuesday 30th January the Seanad is to debate a bill put forward by Senator Frances Black and other Independent Senators calling for a boycott of Israeli Settlement products. The Bill is called the CONTROL OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY (OCCUPIED TERRITORIES) BILL 2018.

Irish4Israel is asking you to urgently contact all Senators to raise your objections to this bill. Please remain polite in your email We have listed some talking points below. It is important you select a few points below and try and put these points in your own words and we would kindly ask you don’t copy and paste them into an email. Emails in your own words will be far more effective. Please feel free to raise your own points or even include the map of lies such as the one here to help explain your point.

Firstly, this will come down to numbers on Wednesday so in your email we would ask you politely request they attend this vote and vote against the bill.

Talking points

Settlement products make up less than 1 per cent of the 14 billion euro in goods and services exported from Israel to the European Union. These products are not subject to free trade agreements between the EU and Israel.

This bill is endorsed by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign an organisation that not only seeks a boycott of settlement products but all Israeli products, they have acknowledged this bill as a positive step towards achieving their final aim on their website. Such a bill if passed is seen as a victory of the boycott,divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Which leads to the further deligtisimisation of Israel and the creation of a one state solution.

Those endorsing this bill wish to see a complete boycott of Israel and acknowledge this is just the first step in achieving that aim. Consistent Irish Governments have stated their opposition to boycotts of Israel.

The BDS ideology calls for a boycott of all of Israel, all Israelis, all Israeli brands and all companies that trade with Israel.The stated objective of BDS as outlined by its leader Omar Barghoutti is not the ending of the occupation but ending the existence of Israel entirely.

The use of boycotts as a tactic in regard to Israel is designed to have a very specific resonance with the main historic 20th Century boycott campaign, which was against apartheid South Africa. By using the tactic that was used against apartheid, the BDS movement seeks to create an intellectual parallel between Israel and apartheid. This accusation of apartheid is a sinister smear against Israel.

Any form of boycott does constitute delegitimisation because it reinforces the false narrative that Israel is analogous with apartheid South Africa.

There is an attempt to portray all settlers as right wing or religious when in fact these individuals constitute a small minority of settlers. The 70,000 Jews who have returned to live in the Gush Etzion region outside Jerusalem have returned to an area that was Jewish prior to the 1949 armistice lines. The Jews living in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City are living in an area that has been inhabited by Jews for over 3000 years before they were ethnically cleansed from the area by the Jordanians after 1948.

Settlements make up less than 4 per cent of the total land area of the West Bank with most being on or around the Green Line/1967 border/1949 Armistice line. It is acknowledged by Israelis and Palestinians and the international community that most of these settlements will remain with the required land swaps

Israel has repeatedly offered to withdraw from almost all the West Bank to create a Palestinian state, most recently in 2000,2001 and 2008. The Palestinians rejected this offer.

When Israel withdrew over 8,000 settlers from Gaza in 2005 and handed the Gaza Strip over to the Palestinians, it led to a violent take over by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas who engaged in rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

Under the Oslo Accord the West Bank was divided into three areas, Area’s A,B and C . Israeli economic activity in the areas defined as Area C,, is explicitly endorsed by the Oslo Accords agreed with the Palestinians.

Settlements are regularly portrayed as the largest obstacle to peace, when in reality anyone with a map, pen and calculator could negotiate the necessary land swaps required.

Senator Black’s bill ignores the genuine security concerns of Israel, which is that jihadists would be able to launch rockets from the mountains in the West Bank into Jerusalem or Tel Aviv risking the lives of millions and putting Israel’s main airport at risk.

If Israel’s critics wanted to be fair, they would recognise that the Palestinian leadership has itself played a significant role in feeling this conflict, but BDS has no interest in being fair or objective. BDS prefers to blame Israel and only Israel.

Settlements are one of multiple issues that have to be discussed for a final status peace agreement. Irish politicians continually ignore the incitement to religious violence promoted in Palestinian school books, on tv and social media. This incitement has led to an increase in car ramming and stabbing attacks in recent years.

In Section 2 of the bill it states “illegal settler” means a member of the civilian population of an occupying power who was or is present within the relevant occupied territory and whose presence is being, or has been, facilitated directly or indirectly, by the occupying power;” – This means that even if an Israeli was previously a settler and left the settlements they are still covered up this law

Irish Tourists at risk. How this law could impact you.

As outlined by section 2 of the proposed bill a “settlement service” means a service provided in whole or in part within a relevant occupied territory by an illegal settler. An Irish tourist who rents through AirBnB an apartment owned by an Israeli in Eastern Jerusalem will have broken the law. Likewise if an Irish person travelling to Jerusalem stays in an Israeli owned hotel in the disputed territory of the Old City they will have broken this law. The law does not state religion, but the implications of this law is that if an Irish person stays in an Arab owned hotel they won’t have committed a crime, while if they stay in a Jewish (Israeli civilian) owned hotel they have. This leads to another question, Many hotels and guest houses are owned by Armenians in the Old City, they are Israeli citizens and part of the “civilian population”. Are they illegal settlers ? Or are only Jews in the Old City deemed to be illegal settlers ?

Again another example under section 2. Hebron, a city within the West Bank, it contains the tombs of Abraham and other patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish faith. Jews have lived in Hebron for 3000 years but are now considered settlers. The tombs have become a tourist attraction/pilgrimage site, if an Irish person hires a local guide they only break the law if they hire an Israeli Jew who would be considered an Israeli civilian, as this would be considered a service provided by a settler. They would not have broken the law if they engage the services of an Arab tour guide from the same city. This constitutes discrimination on the grounds of nationality, religion and ethnicity and is illegal under both the Employment Equality Act and Equal Status Act here at home.

The fine for importing Israeli settlement products is greater than importing fireworks. Fireworks results in a class C fine while a bottle of wine bought on holidays in Israel could result in a class A fine.

Will using Irish credit cards or debit cards in a store or atm owned by an Israeli civilian become illegal if this law is passed ? What implications will this have for Irish tourists in the Old City of Jerusalem which is considered “occupied”.

Illegal under US Law

Over 20 US states have outlawed boycotts of Israel and require any company seeking a state contract or investment from a state pension fund to show evidence they are not engaging in boycotts of Israel.

The 1977 Export Administration Act prohibits US companies or any company with a significant US presence from engaging with the boycott demands of a foreign country. How will this bill work ? Companies like Apple, Google, Bank of America would be unable to comply with Irish law. This puts Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland at risk.

Please BCC your emails to the Senators if you are emailing them in one large group. Also for our own records we would greatly appreciate if you could let us know if and when you have sent an email to the Senators.We would also appreciate if you could keep us informed of any responses you get. To ensure this bill is voted against we would ask you to also consider attending a clinic of your local Senator as many meet members of the Public on Fridays and Saturdays. Their clinic times are available on their website or if you call their office. , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Extra credit

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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