Coveney says he will not be ‘bounced’ into Israeli goods ban

Tánaiste says Seanad Bill to ban goods from occupied territories is ‘not legally sound’

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said he will "not be bounced into anything I believe is the wrong thing to do" as he expressed his opposition to a Bill banning goods from Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

The Seanad on Wednesday passed the committee stage of the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill which prohibits the importation or sale of goods or services in settlements condemned by the UN, EU and Ireland as illegal.

But Mr Coveney told Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty that while he understood the political frustration that produced the Bill, "we do not believe it to be legally sound or capable of being implemented".

Mr Doherty said Thursday was International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and said that all parties bar Mr Coveney’s supported the legislation.


He said Fine Gael “urgently needs to get on board with what is a progressive and human rights-based legislative measure”.

“Nothing will change in Gaza or the West Bank until the international community moves from empty rhetoric to putting pressure on Israel.”

The Donegal TD added that it would be four years next week since the Dáil unanimously accepted a Sinn Féin motion for the State to formally recognise the state of Palestine.

He accused the Government of dragging its heels on this matter despite a commitment in the programme for Government and said the “continue mantra from Fine Gael that the time is not right is simply not good enough”.

Mr Coveney said that “Palestinians and the Palestinian National Authority have strong advocates in both Houses, and I am one of them”.

He reiterated that he had spent more time on the Middle East peace process since becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs than on anything else apart from Brexit and EU issues.

The Government would continue to try to have a positive impact in finding a way forward “that will protect Palestinians and support a sustainable two-state solution for both Israel and Palestine”.

But he said “I will not be bounced into anything that I believe is the wrong thing to do”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times