A bill to outlaw trade in goods from Israeli settlements in Palestine has been passed by the lower house of the Dublin parliament, a major step on its journey into law.
On Thursday, the Dail overwhelmingly approved the Occupied Territories Bill by a vote of 78-45, dealing a big defeat to the government of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Frances Black, the independent senator who initiated the legislation last year, greeted the result as “amazing,” adding that “Ireland will always stand for international law and human rights, and we’re one step closer to making history.”
In December, the upper house gave its final approval to the bill, making the Seanad the first house of parliament in the world to pass legislation banning the import of goods from Israeli settlements in occupied territory, which are illegal under international law, according to Sadaka, an Irish group that helped craft the bill.
Passage in the Dail was assured as Fianna Fail, the second largest grouping in parliament, had given its backing to the bill, along with other opposition parties.
Thursday’s vote is not final, however. The bill must still go to committee and further debate before it can be voted onto the statute books.
The victory is significant since Irish politicians faced fierce lobbying from the US Congress not to pass the legislation.
During his speech introducing the bill to the Dail on Wednesday, Fianna Fail lawmaker Niall Collins paid tribute to human rights and labor groups including Palestine’s Al-Haq, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Trocaire, Christian Aid and Sadaka for their work on the legislation.
“If passed, Ireland and her parliament will be sending a strong message, that it condemns the occupation of territories which are deemed illegal under international law,” Collins said.
“We need to send a signal to apartheid Israel that its policy of murder and occupation can no longer go unhindered under international law,” lawmaker Gino Kenny of the People Before Profit party told the house.
Opposing the bill, government minister Ciaran Cannon claimed that banning Israeli settlement goods would be a “betrayal of our principles as members of the European Union.”
Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams commended the work of Senator Frances Black and the Seanad for passing the Bill, and described the government’s decision to oppose the bill as “reprehensible”.
“On Monday we celebrated An Chead Dail. That was an illegal act,” he said. “If we followed the rationale of [Foreign Affairs] Minister Coveney those who assembled would not have done anything. Nothing.
“They would have sat and decided to do nothing. Women still wouldn’t have the vote if we followed that rationale. Slavery would still be legal.
“If we followed the Minister’s rational. And no one anywhere in the world would have won one right if we followed his rationale
“So we as a former colony, still partitioned and occupied in part by a government we don’t want; with our proud history of freedom struggle; of resistance; and our peace process; if we don’t support the rights of Palestinians who will?”