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Liberties native Frances Black at the head of groundbreaking new Bil

 

Senator Frances Black of the Liberties has been in the news recently in relation to a Bill she proposed in the Seanad which would prohibit the importing of goods produced in Israeli settlements in Palestine.

The Occupied Territories Bill 2018 was passed in the Seanad on the 11th of July and is currently before the Oireachtas. The Bill still has a way to go before it is signed into law and faces opposition from the Government but Senator Black has said the new legislation is a crucial step in opposing the Israeli settlements.

“It’s not good enough to simply condemn the settlements as ‘unambiguously illegal’, to use the Government’s phrasing, but then trade in the proceeds of that crime,” Senator Black said. “There must be consistency in our foreign policy and we can’t provide financial support for war crimes. That should be a basic standard for any country that believes in human rights and international law.”

Both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein supported the Bill, which ensured its victory in the Seanad despite Fine Gael’s opposition.

Fianna Fail spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Niall Collins said: “We recognise that this is a complex conflict and wrongs have been committed on both sides but we are deeply frustrated at the lack of progress in achieving progress towards a two-state solution, the continued expansion of illegal settlements and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank.

It is our hope that this Bill will compel Israel to reflect on its actions and will provide the impetus for the EU and the international community to redouble their efforts in finding a long-lasting and sustainable solution to this long-running conflict. Our ultimate aim is to see long-lasting peace in the region and the realisation of full human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Seán Crowe, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade with special responsibility for International Affairs & Outreach said: “I believe Ireland has a moral and legal obligation to ban goods created through violations of international law from entering the country. We need to ensure that international and human rights law is respected. Our concerns and focus should be on the victims of human rights abuses and war crimes, not the perpetrators.”

Fine Gael remain opposed to the Bill with Minister Simon Coveney saying that “passage of the Bill would be in breach of European law and expose Ireland to potential legal action by the European Commission.”

Senator Black rejected this argument however. She said: “Given Ireland and the EU’s commitment to upholding international humanitarian law (Fourth Geneva Convention) and fundamental right, Ireland is entitled under Article 36 of the Treaties to end its support for what the EU itself says are violations of international law.”

The Liberty contacted the Israeli embassy for comment with no response.

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