Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Ireland's Israel bill passes hurdle in parliament

The bill still has many hoops to jump through before it is made law

The bill could interrupt relations with tech firms like Google and Apple, which have offices in both countries. Reuters
The bill could interrupt relations with tech firms like Google and Apple, which have offices in both countries. Reuters

A plan to stop companies in Ireland trading with firms or people based in Israel’s West Bank settlements moved a step closer to becoming law Thursday, after lawmakers backed it in the latest stage of the nation’s legislative process.

The proposal, which aims to prohibit the purchase of goods or services produced in settlements, passed the so-called second stage in the Irish parliament by 78 votes to 45.

Ireland’s minority government opposed the bill, which passed with support from opposition parties and independent lawmakers. Still, the idea remains a long way from becoming law, with several steps to come when it could be altered or effectively killed.

The bill is “not legally sound,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said in parliament Wednesday. “These are issues we need to discuss at an EU level.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the bill “an expression of pure hostility on the part of its initiators that deserves every condemnation.”

“It is disturbing and disappointing that the initiators of the Irish law focus a hypocritical attack on Israel, rather than focusing on the dictatorships that slaughter their citizens,” the ministry said in the statement. “This is a clear expression of obsessive discrimination that should be rejected with disgust.”

The proposals raises questions as to whether it could hit US tech firms with Irish and Israeli operations. Facebook, Apple, and Alphabet’s Google are among firms with offices in both countries.

“We believe that the provisions in relation to its trade and investment implications require further examination, particularly in the context of the recently announced US-EU Trade Agreement negotiations,” the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland said in an e-mail response to questions before Thursday’s vote.

The organisation is also asking its members if the plan could caused them problems, given that US law bans American companies from complying with overseas boycotts.

Israel conquered the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War, and the Palestinians claim it as part of a future state, a stance that has wide backing in Ireland. Israel considers the area disputed rather than occupied territory.

Updated: January 25, 2019 01:10 AM