Ban Settlement Goods: Take Action to Support the Occupied Territories Bill
UPDATE 2 (31st Jan 2018): Unfortunately the bill was debated but not voted on, and a vote has been adjourned until sometime before July. It is worth noting that it was supported by Sinn Fein, Labour and many independent Senators, but opposed by the main government party Fine Gael and largest opposition party Fianna Fáil.
Despite welcoming the strong and unequivocal condemnation of illegal Israeli settlements by all contributors to the debate, including the Táiniste and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, we believe the failure of the Seanad to pass this bill at this juncture is, sadly, merely a prescription for more of the same old inaction when it comes to Apartheid Israel’s decades-long occupation and colonisation of Palestine and oppression of its people.
We urge everyone to keep putting pressure on politicians to support the bill in the meantime.
UPDATE: This is a unique opportunity for Ireland to be at the forefront of ensuring international law is respected and states do not profit from the occupation of other countries. It is imperative that people use this rare opportunity to lobby Senators and local TDs (especially Fianna Fail reps). Note that we have been informed that the vote has been moved forward to TUESDAY 30th January to be debated between 4.45-6.45pm.
On top of the talking points outlined below, now is the time to politely remind Fianna Fail representatives that their party officially “supports the EU ban on illegal settlement goods,” and to point out that given that Tanaiste has said just this week that there is no reasonable prospect of agreement on such a ban at EU level, and that it is clear that Ireland has the capacity to overtake EU inaction in order to spearhead such a change instead, surely the Fianna Fail party will back this Bill to bring it to the next stage in the Seanad?
In addition to contacting Seantors (see below), please take a few minutes to email or preferably call your local Fianna Fail TD(s) and the Fianna Fail head office (01 – 676 1551 / firstname.lastname@example.org) on Monday to politely impress upon them how important this Bill is.
An historic opportunity for Ireland to set a European precedent in respect of international law has presented itself thanks to the work of Sen. Frances Black, Trocaire, Christian Aid, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and others. The Occupied Territories Bill 2018, which will be voted on in the Seanad
on Wednesday January 31st sometime before July 2018, seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories. Such settlements are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground. Despite this, Ireland provides continued economic support through trade in settlement goods.
The legislation applies to settlements in occupied territories where there is clear international legal consensus that they violate international law. The clearest current example are the Israel’s numerous illegal settlements, including industrial and agricultural zones, in occupied Palestine, which have been repeatedly condemned as illegal by the UN Security Council and other UN bodies, the EU, the International Court of Justice, the Irish Government, and countless human rights organisations. The legislation will also be applicable to products from any other territories that are deemed to be occupied in the future.
TEN MINUTES FOR PALESTINE: PLEASE TAKE ACTION!
You can be sure that well-oiled Israel lobby groups are working hard to ensure this bill is defeated, so it is imperative that all supporters of Palestinian rights take ten minutes to write to all Senators to ask them to support this Bill, which seeks to have Irish domestic law fall in line with international law when it comes to the trade in stolen goods and the proceeds of illegal activities. This Bill can help end the international crimes of acquisition of territory by force and the colonisation of occupied lands.
A model letter template can be found here (Google Docs) or here (MS Word format), and below are some key issues to mention to Senators – but please if you have time write your own email or letter, or better yet, make phone calls; 50 individualised letters are worth 200 copied and pasted letters.
A full list of Senators email addresses and contact numbers for can be found here (Google Docs) or here (MS Excel format).
Please note that Sinn Féin, Labour and Green Party Senators have already pledged to support it, along with the Seanad Civil Engagement Group Senators Frances Black, Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane, Colette Kelleher and John Dolan, as well as Senator David Norris. It is likely that Fine Gael Senators will vote as a block against it, so please, especially if you are calling, focus on those who are still on the fence – namely Fianna Fail and the Undecided Independents.
- Be polite throughout any correspondence, even if someone says they will not vote in favour of it. If they are not willing to vote in favour, ask them to please abstain.
- Note that all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and are war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention – no state except Israel disputes this – and this has been reaffirmed time and again by the UN (most recently in UN Security Council 2334 in 2016), the EU, the Irish Government and the International Court of Justice (2004).
- Mention how this Bill would set an important precedent in Europe and beyond that would back up words of condemnation with actions when it comes to stopping profiteering from stolen land and resources. Products from illegal settlements, including industrial and agricultural zones, or those natural resources extracted from occupied territories, are the proceeds of international crimes – Ireland should not allow itself to be a receiver of what amount to stolen goods.
- Note that the Bill has a sound legal basis in EU law, as confirmed by two eminently respected Seniors Counsels in both Ireland and Britain.
- Mention how Israel’s illegal settlement project continues to expand despite near-universal condemnation by the international community, with Israel’s ruling party Likud just last month making public its desire to illegally annex settlement blocs.
- Talk about how, in light of the US decision to recognise all of Jerusalem, including the occupied and illegally annexed East Jerusalem, as the capital of Israel, this Bill provides a method to help apply brakes to the emboldened rightwing government in Israel.
- Ask them to stand on the right side of history, to help Palestinians and other occupied people defend themselves from the colonisation of their lands, the theft of their resources and the crushing of their hopes for freedom.
Finally, it is important to remember that this bill applies both to illegal Israeli settlements, and potentially other such settlements in other countries, only. It is not a boycott of all Israeli goods, it is not a ‘BDS Bill’ – it is a Bill to incorporate international law into Irish domestic law with regard to occupied territories , illegal settlements and trade.
While we in the IPSC have long argued for such an outright ban of products from Israel, we have also long argued for just such an incorporation of international law into Irish law, and we strongly believe that this Bill, if passed, would be a huge step in the right direction for accountability for war crimes, and profiteering from those crimes, and would show real and concrete supportive for the people of Palestine.
We urge you all to take the time to write or call Senators to encourage them to vote for this historic Bill.
A copy of the Bill is available here: Occupied Territories Bill 2018
A short explanatory note on the Bill’s main provisions is available here: Briefing Note – Occupied Territories Bill 2018
Senator Frances Black’s press release on the Bill is here: Launch of the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018