Palestinian activists, officials welcome Irish vote in favour of Occupied Territories Bill

PNN/ Dublin/

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomed Seanad vote (25 for, 20 against) in support of Senator Frances Black’s ‘Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill. All parties and most independents in the Seanad Eireann (Irish Sentae), with the exception of the governing party Fine Gael, voted to refer the Bill to the committee stage, the next stage in the process of making a Bill into law. The Bill, if it becomes law, will would prohibit the importation of goods or services from illegal settlements in occupied terriroties, including Israel’s settlements in Palestine which violate the Geneva Conventions.

IPSC Chairperson, Ms. Fatin Al Tamimi, herself a Palestinian-Irish citizen, said: “We in the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and Palestinians around the world, warmly welcome this historic vote, the first its kind in any Western country. Once again, Ireland is making history and leading the way in its solidarity with the Palestinian people. We thank and salute all those Senators and parties who have pledged to support the Bill, and we will be asking the Irish people to ensure that these politicians support its passage at all stages of the lawmaking process.

“The reaction from Israel, and its para-state lobby organisations in Ireland and elsewhere, shows just how vulnerable the apartheid state is to international pressure. It, however, is a shame that Ireland was forced to take this first step alone, as the EU seems more interested in appeasing Israeli colonialism and oppression than in defending the rights of Palestinians. We hope this action will inspire other sympathetic states to take similar measures to help end the seven decades of oppression that my people have endured since the Nakba.

“These have been great months for Palestine in Ireland, a country which punches well above its weight when it comes to solidarity. Aside from the vote on this bill, at least seven local councils[1] have voted to support the Palestinian-led global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, including Dublin, the first EU capital to take this stand, and most recently Mid-Ulster Council and Fermanagh & Omagh District Council. Last month saw the launch of the campaign for an Irish boycott of Eurovision 2019 in apartheid Israel[2], a call now supported by over 6,000 people, including scores of public figures like Christy Moore, Mary Black, Mike Murphy, Paul Brady, Charlie McGettigan and Carrie Crowley. Meanwhile, barely a week goes by without some form of protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people taking place whether solidarity vigils or protests outside shops selling Israeli products which help fund war crimes. Today is a great day for Palestine, but we cannot rest on our laurels – we must keep pushing for concrete action.

Tamimi, on behalf of IPSC, paid tribute to Frances Black and her team for their dedication to this Bill, and colleagues in Trocaire, Chirstian Aid, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and notably Sadaka, especially their Legal Officer Gerry Liston, for all their legal and campaigning work on the issue.

To his part, senior PLO official, Dr. Saeb Erekat on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership extended sincere appreciation to the Irish Seanad for “standing tall for the principle of justice” by approving this historic motion, saying it is a courageous step that builds on the historic ties between Ireland and Palestine, as well as it shows the way forward for the rest of the European Union.

“Today the Irish Seanad has sent a clear message to the international community and particularly to the rest of the European Union: the mere talking about the two-state solution is not enough without taking concrete measures. Those trading with Israeli settlements are complicit in the systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination. If some countries within the EU are willing to continue encouraging Israel’s culture of impunity, it is time for individual member-states to take legitimate actions like the one approved by the Seanad,” Erekat said in a statement.

“I would like to make use of this occasion to thank everyone that was involved in the approval of this law, from political parties to Palestinian and Irish civil society, and particularly to Senator Frances Black for her courage to introduce this motion that advances the cause of justice in Palestine,” Erekat concluded.