Historic vote against Palestinian occupation

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Irish senators on Wednesday passed a bill to ban the import of goods from Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Frances Black, the well-known singer and independent politician who sponsored the bill, tweeted that the vote was “a first step, but an important one.”

“Today we state strongly: Ireland will always stand for international humanitarian law, justice and human rights,” Ms Black added.

The Occupied Territories Bill passed by 25-20 votes in the Seanad, the upper house of the Oireachtas, the 26 County parliament.

There was sustained applause and a standing ovation after the vote in favour of the Bill . It will have to pass several more stages in the Seanad and the lower house, the Dail, before it can take effect as law.

The Green Party, the Labour Party, Fianna Fail Sinn Fein, the Social Democrats and independent lawmakers are also supporting the legislation. The bill is only opposed by the ruling Fine Gael party.

The Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign praised the work of all the activists, trade union and civil society groups that backed the bill.

“The Irish people can be proud that the Irish Seanad today took a brave step in leading the way in the fight against apartheid,” Shawan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq stated.

Jabarin expressed confidence that the bill would become law and hope that other European countries would follow. “It is time to end the culture of impunity,” Jabarin added.

Frances Black has now urged the Dail to support the bill.

“There is a clear hypocrisy here - how can we condemn the settlements as ‘unambiguously illegal,’ as theft of land and resources, but happily buy the proceeds of this crime?”, she said.

She also recounted how on her recent visit to Palestine she had seen the devastating impact of Israeli colonisation on Palestinian freedom of movement, housing and healthcare.

“I witnessed the crushing indignity of a Palestinian community cut off from their water supply so that it could be diverted to an Israeli chicken farm,” she wrote.

“Is the moral response to condemn the illegality, but then ask how much for the eggs?” she asked.

Human Rights Watch has said that businesses in Occupied Palestine “unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources.”

There is a growing consensus among international jurists that doing business with Israeli settlements is illegal, and Amnesty International has called on governments to impose a ban.

If the Occupied Territories Bill becomes law, Ireland would be the first European country to do so.

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