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Israel and US put pressure on Fianna Fail to drop support for Bill

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US officials pressed Fianna Fail to drop its support for legislation banning goods from the occupied Palestinian territories in Ireland, party officials confirmed today.

A party spokesman said that it had been lobbied by the US State Department and the US and Israeli embassies in Dublin, but he said Fianna Fail would continue to support the legislation. Fianna Fail described the discussions as “cordial.”

If the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill passes into law, Ireland will become the first country in the European Union to ban the import of goods from Israeli settlements. 

While it does not specifically name Israel, the Bill would halt “trade with and economic support for illegal settlements in territories deemed occupied under international law.”

Around 600,000 settlers live in illegally occupied territory in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, which Israel conquered in 1967.

The Seanad, Ireland’s upper house of parliament, backed the Bill proposed by independent Senator Frances Black on Wednesday by 25 votes to 20.

While the legislation has the support of Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Labour along with a number of independent senators, it is opposed by Leo Varadkar’s government, which warns that it clashes with EU trade laws.

Having received a standing ovation after passing its first vote in the Seanad, the Bill must pass through the lower-house Dail to become law.

Ireland imports as much as €1 million in products from Israeli settlements annually, but opponents fear that the passage of the legislation could set a precedent for other EU nations to implement similar boycotts.

The Irish government may try to block or delay the Bill using procedural measures after Foreign Minister Simon Coveney made an unsuccessful last-ditch plea for the legislation to be dropped.

The Israeli embassy said the Seanad had supported “a populist, dangerous and extremist anti-Israel boycott initiative that hurts the chances of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The absurdity in the Seanad Eireann initiative is that it will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott. Israel will consider its response in accordance with developments regarding this legislation.”

But Ireland’s Palestine Solidarity spokeswoman Fatin al-Tamimi thanked the the Seanad for“making history and leading the way in its solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

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