Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill

 

Sir, – Today the Seanad will vote on the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill, 2018, which would ban imports from illegal Israeli settlements that are built on stolen Palestinian land. The support this Bill has received across the Irish political spectrum has been inspiring, and I truly hope that all of Ireland will come out in support of legislation that will hold Israel accountable for its violations of the Rome statute, international law and basic moral decency.

For decades, Israel has displaced, oppressed and held the Palestinian people captive with total impunity. Its construction of illegal settlements and the Apartheid Wall have carved up Palestinian land, cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank, destroyed the two-state solution and undermined the prospects of peace. These settlements ravage our land, steal our resources and exploit our people and make up 42 per cent of the West Bank. Many have their own roads and infrastructure in the heart of Palestine – for Jewish use only. There is no clearer system of apartheid than when a Palestinian farmer can’t use a settler-only road that cuts through his farm land. These settlements are also home to extremist, bigoted and armed Israeli settlers that have created a system of terror and violence, whereby they kill Palestinian civilians, destroy crops, vandalise homes and property, and attack mosques and churches with impunity. Not only have these attacks been accommodated by the Israeli occupation authorities, they have often been complicit.

As numerous Irish officials witnessed and reported, Israel deliberately persists in building Jewish-only settlements. The only way to bring Israel to compliance with international law and moral imperatives is to hold Israel to account. It is time to put an end to this cruel system of abuse, as well as the preferential treatment that Israel has received for so long. It is time for Europe to act on the basis of its legislation, policy and principles. We look to Ireland to be the trailblazer in this regard. We are extremely thankful for Ireland’s longstanding support for Palestine and the Palestinian people. This bond between our peoples has been forged through our shared struggles for justice and freedom. The Irish government’s decision to become the first European country to recognise the PLO and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state as far back as 1980 was a watershed moment in our relations.

During this dark chapter in our history, we must speak out clearly and courageously in support of our shared universal values of peace, justice, freedom and a life of dignity. This Bill represents a historic opportunity for Ireland to act on these values and once again support the Palestinian people. We hope we can count on Ireland to choose the right side of history and justice again. – Yours, etc,

Dr HANAN ASHRAWI,

(PLO Executive Committee and Palestinian lawmaker).

Sir, – In January we wrote to The Irish Times urging political parties in Ireland to support the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018, which was due before Seanad Éireann on January 30th. Voting on this Bill was delayed after Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney requested more time to pursue alternatives. The Bill returns to Seanad Éireann today. In the five months since the delayed vote, there has been no progress on any alternative. Nothing has changed other than the continuing loss of land for Palestinian communities and the continued strengthening of Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank.

As concerned citizens of Israel who wish to live in peace with our neighbours, we once again urge Ireland to support this legislation that will ban trade between Ireland and Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The Israeli occupation of the territories beyond the 1967 borders is not only unjust but is both morally and strategically unsustainable. It is detrimental to peace and poses a threat to the security of Israel itself. While Ireland, along with the rest of the EU, considers the occupation illegal, it continues to economically sustain it by trading with illegal Israeli settlements established in clear and direct violation of international law.

Genuine reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians is possible, but it is clear to us that this will not happen when one party continues to militarily occupy the other, denying its citizens basic rights and continuing to expropriate their land.

The occupation has been correctly identified by successive Irish governments as a major obstacle to peace. Ireland can play a positive role for peace in the region by officially differentiating in its trading relationship between Israel, which it will retain strong relations with, and the occupied territories. A vote for this Bill is a vote for peace. – Yours, etc,

ILAN BARUCH,

Chairman,

Israeli Policy

Working Group,

Jerusalem;

URI AVNERY,

Former member of Knesset,

Sheli Party;

ELIE BARNAVI,

Former Israeli ambassador

to France;

MICHAEL BEN-YAIR,

Former attorney general

of Israel;

ROMAN BRONFMAN,

Former member of Knesset,

Meretz Party;

AVRAHAM AVRUM BURG,

Former speaker

of the Knesset,

Labor Party;

Prof NAOMI CHAZAN,

Former member of Knesset,

Meretz Party;

YAEL DAYAN,

Former member of Knesset,

Labor Party;

Prof ITZHAK GALNOOR,

Former head of the Israeli

Civil Service Commission;

ERELA HADAR,

Former Israeli ambassador

to the Czech Republic;

Prof DAVID HAREL,

Vice-President,

Israel Academy of Sciences

and Humanities, and

Israel Prize

recipient (2004);

DANI KARAVAN,

Sculptor,

Israel Prize recipient (1977);

MIKI KRATSMAN,

Artist,

EMET Prize

Laureate (2011);

ALEX LEVAC,

Photojournalist,

Israel Prize recipient (2005);

Dr ALON LIEL,

Former director general

of Israeli ministry of

foreign affairs and

former Israeli ambassador to

South Africa and Turkey;

Prof YEHUDA

JUDD NE’EMAN,

Filmmaker,

Israel Prize recipient (2009);

TZALI RESHEF,

Former member of Knesset,

Labor Party.