Welcome from Jewish leaders after Irish government drops ‘anti-Israel’ Occupied Territories Bill

Jewish leaders have welcomed news that a bill relating to the boycott of Israeli goods has been dropped by the new Irish government.

Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 12:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 4:24 pm
Pictured at the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration which took place in the Island Arts Centre, Lisburn last night are (L-R) Tomi Reichental, Holocaust survivor, Junior Minister Emma Pengelly, Tali Appleton, Shoshana Appleton and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann. The annual ceremony remembers the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. This year's theme 'Don't stand by' calls on us to learn from the past in order to create a safer, better future. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons 07778373486

Jewish leaders have welcomed news that a bill relating to the boycott of Israeli goods has been dropped by the new Irish government.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 had strong support among southern Irish politicians but was opposed by the Irish government.

It did not specifically mention Israel but would have made it an offence for a person to “import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances”.

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The news came after Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party finally reached an agreement on a draft programme for a new Dublin government. The formation of a new government had been stalled since February when no one party won enough votes to govern.

Israeli-born Shoshana Appleton, a leading member of the Belfast Jewish community, said: “We are all very delighted by this news. I think it was misguided to begin with because it would have affected Palestinians more than Israel, because so many of them are employed in manufacturing Israeli goods that are sold overseas.”

Steven Jaffe of the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel also welcomed it.

“We hope the new Irish government will live up to its pledge to deepen its relationship with both Israelis and Palestinians in the interest of peace,” he said. 

But Amnesty International Ireland executive director Colm O’Gorman disagreed, describing the news as “hugely disappointing and a missed opportunity for Ireland to show global leadership”.

Fine Gael Tánaiste Simon Coveney had repeatedly outlined his party’s opposition to the bill, saying it could not be implemented.

“I got pretty detailed advice from the Attorney General in relation to it and couldn’t support it on that basis,” he said.

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