The Occupied Territories Bill

 

Sir, – Alan Shatter’s letter (October 19th) opposing the Occupied Territories Bill as “dismissing the need for dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders” and as aiming for “the destruction of the Israeli state” misleads readers on several important points.

First, in promoting dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Mr Shatter ignores the failure of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the result of such dialogue, to bring about justice for the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are ruled by a settler colonial Israeli regime where checkpoints, raids, arrests, administrative detention, the arrest of young children and extrajudicial executions are regular occurrences, hardly a recipe for “ending conflict and effecting reconciliation”.

Second, Mr Shatter obscures the fact that the Israeli settlements, scattered throughout the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley, separating Palestinian villages through the apartheid wall and a network of checkpoints and Jews-only roads, grant Israeli settlers racial superiority over the occupied Palestinians, and are a hindrance to any meaningful dialogue, a dialogue patently impossible between the (Israeli) coloniser and the (Palestinian) colonised.

As a (Jewish) Israeli and Irish citizen (and as chairwoman of Academics for Palestine), I join Palestinian, Israeli and Irish Palestine solidarity activists in supporting the Occupied Territories Bill, which, like the BDS campaign, is a non-violent legitimate measure aimed at clarifying to the Israeli colonising entity that infringing the Palestinians’ rights, and the ongoing occupation, siege, oppression and ethnic cleansing policies can no longer be tolerated by any justice-loving person who supports the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, the return of all stolen Palestinian lands and of all Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 and in 1967.

Like many others in Palestine, in Israel, and throughout the world, including many Jewish people, I believe that the establishment of one democratic state in historic Palestine where Palestinians, Jews and migrants live in full equality is the only way of bringing the colonisation of Palestine to an end. All non-violent measures, such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the academic boycott of Israeli higher education institutions, and legislative measures such as the Occupied Territories Bill, are tactical steps crucial to achieving this justified aim. – Yours, etc,

RONIT LENTIN,

( Retired Associate

Professor of Sociology,

Trinity College Dublin)

Cornmarket,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – A basic error made in all of the opinions cited by Gerry Liston and also in his letter of October 17th is supposing that goods and services are produced by Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

In reality, goods and services are produced by numerous independent Israeli businesses in the vicinity of the Israeli settlements, rather than by the settlements themselves.

In the submission we were invited to submit to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, we pointed out that these businesses employ tens of thousands of Palestinians at much higher salaries than Palestinians obtain elsewhere, except when they receive the lavish salaries paid by the Palestinian Authority for murdering Israelis.

The families and dependents of the above Palestinian workers depend on their earnings from these businesses and run into hundreds of thousands of individuals. But Mr Liston’s Bill would ban the sale of products and services of all of these businesses.

The Ireland Israel Alliance had the privilege of visiting one such place of employment only last month, a plastics factory in the Barkan Industrial Estate in the West Bank, a model of peace and economic growth for Arab and Jew alike. Some 70 per cent of the workforce are Arab and their salaries are four times higher than their neighbours under the Palestinian Authority. The one thing that above all else unites Jews and Arabs in these areas is a desire for a peaceful and prosperous future for their children. They see the “Occupied Territories” Bill as a blunt instrument that will only lead to unemployment.

Furthermore, even if Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the West Bank, it does not prohibit businesses, only the transfer of persons, as was recognised in judgments of a French court of appeal and the British supreme court, and which are not mentioned in any of Mr Liston’s opinions. And contrary to Mr Liston’s suggestion, the International Court of Justice has not held that Israeli businesses in the West Bank contravene international law.

Mr Liston is wrong to claim that the State would only have to pay damages if it fails to comply with a ruling of the European Court of Justice. The ECJ held in Francovich and in other cases that private parties are entitled to compensation for loss due to a national measure in breach of EU law.

Finally, the evidence we submitted showed that under the Ribicoff amendment, US companies would suffer loss of tax benefits in respect of the whole turnover of Irish subsidiaries if they participate or cooperate in an international boycott that is not sanctioned by the US government.

Participation in a boycott of Israeli businesses in the West Bank would also conflict with a multitude of US state laws, as Airbnb rapidly found.

Mr Liston’s blunt assertion that Israel are the criminals and the Palestinians the victims is not only risible, but highly insulting to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians whose livelihoods are at risk, and to the hardworking and industrious Israelis who provide them with employment.

His final statement fully exposes his dangerous and divisive view that dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians is neither possible nor desirable. – Yours, etc,

JACKIE GOODALL,

Executive Director,

Ireland Israel Alliance,

Dublin 2.