Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill

 

Sir, – Last week we visited the West Bank and saw for ourselves the tragic impact of illegal Israeli settlements, built on Palestinian land.

These settlements, condemned as illegal by the United Nations, European Union and the Government of Ireland, stand in the way of a permanent peace between Israelis and Palestinians. As a country, we cannot continue to condemn these settlements as illegal under international law and then trade with them, making them economically viable.

Let us be under no illusions – the products we buy from these settlements deprive Palestinians of their homes, their farms and their livelihoods. Trade with settlements in the Occupied Territories legitimises their existence and ignores international law. Therefore it is necessary to be consistent in ensuring that products produced or manufactured in these settlements do not end up for sale in shops and supermarkets in Ireland.

Today, Dáil Éireann has a historic opportunity to end trade with these settlements through passing the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018. If the Bill is passed, Ireland will be the first country in the world to legislate in this way and will become a world leader in taking decisive action to bring this conflict to a just and peaceful end.

We encourage our citizens to recognise the significance of this Bill and urge our TDs to be courageous in supporting it. – Yours, etc,

Bishop NOEL TREANOR,

Bishop of Down and Connor,

Member of the

Episcopal Commission

for Social Issues

& International Affairs;

Bishop ALAN

McGUCKIAN SJ,

Bishop of Raphoe,

Chair of the Episcopal

Council for Justice & Peace.

Sir, – We, concerned citizens of Israel, are writing to you regarding the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill, which is due to be debated today in Dáil Éireann.

The Israeli occupation of the territories beyond the 1967 borders, now in its 51st year, is not only unjust but also stands in violation of numerous UN resolutions. UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 23rd, 2016, adopted 14:1 by the Security Council (the US abstained), calls for the international community to differentiate between its relations with Israel within the 1967 borders and its dealings with the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

The passage of the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill has become all the more urgent following the Israeli government’s recent announcement of plans to build thousands of new homes in illegal settlements, further undermining the possibility of achieving a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on two states.

As this Bill does not call for a boycott of the State of Israel but rather differentiates it from the occupied territories, it is a modest step that can help ensure that obligations under international law are respected. Its passage through Seanad Éireann shows that there is widespread political and public support for this legislation in Ireland.

We are convinced that Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories is morally and strategically unsustainable, is detrimental to peace, and poses a threat to the security of Israel itself.

It has been enabled by the leniency of the international community, whose rhetoric regarding the dire situation in Palestine has not been matched by appropriate diplomatic action.

The occupation and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements have been correctly identified by successive Irish governments as major obstacles to peace, yet Ireland, along with the rest of the EU, continues to sustain the occupation by trading with illegal Israeli settlements established in clear and direct violation of international law. As people who care deeply about Israel’s future and long for our country to live in peace with its neighbours, we urge you to support the aforementioned Bill. – Yours, etc,

Prof ELIE BARNAVI,

Former ambassador

of Israel to France;

ILAN BARUCH,

Former ambassador of Israel

to South Africa, Namibia,

Botswana and Zimbabwe;

MICHAEL BEN-YAIR,

Former attorney-general

of Israel, former acting

supreme court justice;

AVRAHAM AVRUM BURG,

Former speaker of the

Knesset, Labor Party;

Prof NAOMI CHAZAN,

Former member of Knesset,

Meretz Party,

former president,

New Israel Fund;

Prof ITZHAK GALNOOR,

Former Head of the Israeli

Civil Service Commission,

professor emeritus at

the Hebrew University

of Jerusalem;

ERELA HADAR,

Former ambassador of Israel

to the Czech Republic;

Prof DAVID HAREL, Vice-president,

Israel Academy of Sciences

and Humanities, computer

scientist, Israel Prize

recipient (2004) and EMET Prize Laureate (2010);

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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former ambassador to

South Africa and Turkey;

Prof YEHUDA

JUDD NE’EMAN,

Filmmaker, Israel Prize

recipient (2009);

Prof David Shulman,

EMET Prize recipient (2010) and Israel Prize

recipient (2016);

Prof ZEEV STERNHELL,

Political scientist,

Israel Prize recipient (2008).