Sir, – Jackie Goodall's claim (October 23rd) that the ban on trade with illegal Israeli settlements prescribed by the Occupied Territories Bill should be opposed because it would hurt Palestinians currently employed in the settlements is perverse. A 2013 World Bank report found that Israeli-imposed restrictions on access by Palestinians to over 60 percent of the West Bank – a direct consequence of Israel's illegal settlements – cost the West Bank economy $3.4 billion or over one-third of its GDP in 2011. It is precisely because these settlements have a crippling effect on the Palestinian economy that a small proportion of Palestinians employed in the West Bank (about 3 per cent in total, according to Al Shabaka – the Palestinian Policy Network) are forced to find work in the settlements.
There is, in any event, only one legitimate voice when it comes to the question of the impact of a ban on trade with Israeli settlements on Palestinians: Palestinians themselves. And Palestinian civil society, including trade unions, is unanimous in its support for such a ban.
With regard to Ms Goodall’s legal arguments in opposition to the Bill, her suggestion, firstly, that a distinction is to be drawn between Israeli businesses operating “in the vicinity of the Israeli settlements” and the settlements themselves is simply absurd. It suffices to note that on the same date as her letter, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories stated that the international community is obliged under international law to ban trade with Israeli businesses operating in the West Bank.
Regarding Ms Goodall's claim that the Occupied Territories Bill will expose Ireland to compensation claims if found to breach of EU law, her simplistic reference to the fact that "private parties are entitled to compensation for loss due to a national measure in breach of EU law" exposes the amateurishness of her legal arguments. In 2017, the Irish Supreme Court held in relation to this rule (which is far more nuanced than Ms Goodall suggests) that where a particular provision of EU law gives rise to "complex considerations that [are] not expressly covered by the terms of [the provision in question]," the State cannot be liable to compensate a private person for breaching it.
The fact that there is a chorus of eminent legal opinion which unequivocally demonstrates the compatibility of the Occupied Territories Bill with EU law is itself proof that, according to this test, it could not expose Ireland to compensation claims.
With regard to David M Abrahamson’s allegation (October 24th) that I have attempted to “rewrite history” (in my letter of October 21st), it seems that he has attempted to rewrite my letter. I stated that it is the plunder of Palestinian land – of which Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the West Bank is a mere continuation – and not the settlements themselves which is the issue a t the heart of the conflict. – Yours, etc,
Sadaka – the
Ireland Palestine Alliance,
PO Box 110,