(January 28, 2019 / European Jewish Press) Ireland’s ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, has been summoned to the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem after the Irish parliament advanced a bill that would prohibit commercial activity connected to areas that were outside Israel’s pre-1967 territory.
The final tally of its first reading in Irish lower parliamentary house, the Dáil, was 78-45, with three abstentions. The bill, which is sponsored by independent Senator Frances Black, who labeled it as “a modest bill that seeks to uphold international law,” will now go back to the house for a final vote.
If enacted, it would make Ireland the first European Union country to criminalize doing business beyond the pre-1967 lines, including eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Violators could be subject to a fine of almost $285,000 or five years in prison.
Israel called the bill “hypocritical and anti-Semitic,” and warned it ‘’will have severe ramifications on Israel-Ireland relations and Ireland’s standing in the region should the legislation be promoted.”
“It would be better if Ireland confronted dictatorships and terrorist organizations rather than Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” said a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
“Instead of Ireland condemning Syria for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians, Turkey for the occupation of northern Cyprus and the terrorist organizations for murdering thousands of Israelis, it attacks Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “What a disgrace.”
The Irish ambassador recalled comments made by the country’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, during the debate in the Dáil. She stressed that the Irish government opposes the bill as it would put Ireland in breach of E.U. law and expose Dublin to legal action by the European Commission.
The government is also concerned that it will have less influence in the region and lose its ability to help the Palestinians if the bill becomes law.