Coalition partners divided over Bill on goods from illegal Israeli settlements

Proposed law likely to win support from most Opposition parties

Independent Senator Frances Black has sponsored a private members Bill in the Seanad calling for the prohibition of goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Independent Senator Frances Black has sponsored a private members Bill in the Seanad calling for the prohibition of goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Divisions have emerged between the Coalition partners over a private members Bill in the Seanad calling for a prohibition on goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements.

The Bill, sponsored by Independent Senator Frances Black, is likely to win support from most Opposition parties, but will be opposed by Fine Gael.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 will be tabled on Tuesday and will make it illegal to purchase goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The two Independent Alliance Cabinet Ministers, Finian McGrath and Shane Ross, are understood to have told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar they support the Bill.

However, Fine Gael will not support the Bill. While the party opposes the settlement, it is of the view it is more appropriate to respond through the European Union rather than unilaterally.

Supporters of the Bill, including Sadaka, the Irish Palestine Alliance, have argued that this is not practicable or possible as several EU States would be unwilling to support such sanctions.

With Fine Gael likely to oppose the Bill, the votes of Fianna Fáil will become critical if the Bill is to pass second stage. On Monday, its foreign affairs spokesman Darragh O’Brien said it had yet to make a decision on the Bill. He said he would be bringing the Bill to the party’s front bench for discussion ahead of the debate in the Seanad.

The Independent Alliance is bound by the Government whip on Opposition motions under collective Cabinet responsibility. While Mr Ross and Mr McGrath have voiced their support for the Bill, their viewpoint will be moot as the Bill will be voted on in the Seanad, where the Independent Alliance has no members.