Leading Irish political parties, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, have published election manifestos which support the adoption of the Occupied Territories Bill in Ireland.
The bill, first tabled in 2018, bans trade with territories which are considered to be under occupation. Adopting the bill into law would effectively stop trade between Ireland and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Fianna Fáil’s manifesto, published on 24 January, said the party would “progress the Occupied Territories Bill” in government. Former foreign affairs spokesperson for Fianna Fáil, Niall Collins, told the Electronic Intifada: “We didn’t have to put it into our manifesto…but we insisted on doing so.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin promised to “ban goods from Israel’s illegal colonial settlements in Palestine from entering the Irish market by implementing the Occupied Territories Bill” in a manifesto published on days later. Denise Mitchell, a Sinn Fein politician, said that “this Bill aims to uphold international law…clearly this applies to the ongoing disgraceful actions of Israel in the Palestinian West Bank”.
The Occupied Territories Bill was drafted by Sadaka, an Irish organisation which defends the rights of Palestinians. If passed, the law would make Ireland the first EU country to criminalise commercial interactions with illegal settlements.
A report published by Trading Away Peace found that the EU imported about €50 million ($55 million) worth of goods from Israel between January and October 2018, approximately one per cent – $552,300 – of which comes from the settlements. The analysis also reported that the EU imports 15 times more from the illegal settlements than from Palestine.
However, the European Commission dealt a blow to the landmark legislation in December 2019, announcing that only the EU has the power to ban imports from a non-EU country, the Times reported.
The outgoing minority government, led by the Fine Gael party, was the only Irish party to vote against the bill in January 2019, claiming that it clashes with Ireland’s obligations as a member of the European Union.
While, ten members of US Congress wrote a strongly worded letter to current Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, detailing their opposition to the bill and calling for the legislation to be abandoned, in March 2019.
Nevertheless, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil are tied for first place in the most recent polls, in advance of the election on Saturday, local media, Raidió Teilifís Êireann reported.
While, the Green, Labour, and Solidarity parties have also moved to support the bill, and the Social Democrats spoke in favour of the move during a parliamentary debate but have yet to confirm their commitment.