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NGO to take legal action against Ireland’s anti-Israel boycott legislation

The Lawfare Project has already filed complaints against the bill, saying it would violate foreign-trade competences that belong exclusively to the European Union. It plans to continue to pursue legal action.

Anti-Israel protesters in Israel as part of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Credit: Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign via Facebook.
Anti-Israel protesters in Israel as part of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Credit: Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign via Facebook.

The U.S.-based NGO, the Lawfare Project is planning to take legal action against legislation in Ireland that seeks to ban goods from Israeli settlements.

The “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018,” which passed the Irish Senate in a 25-20 vote on July 11, makes it a criminal offense, punishable by a fine of up to €250,000 ($292,000) or up to five years in prison, 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; and to provide for related matters.”

The Lawfare Project has already filed complaints against the bill, saying it would violate foreign-trade competences that belong exclusively to the European Union. It plans to continue to pursue legal action.

“We are determined to expose the illegality of the Irish boycott bill under European law, as well as the unnecessary damage that it will inflict on U.S. companies operating in Ireland,” said Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein in a statement.

“Commercial discrimination on the basis of nationality is shameful in any form, but it is particularly frightening when it emanates from the halls of government—from the same lawmakers who were elected to protect the legal rights of their constituents. We will do everything in our power to prevent this unprecedented state-sanctioned discrimination from becoming law in Ireland.”

The bill seeks to outlaw the supply of any goods or services produced even only partially by any Israeli when he is present, even temporarily, beyond the pre-1967 lines. It applies not only to supplies in Ireland, but to supplies anywhere in the world if any person involved is an Irish citizen or resident or an Irish company.

If the bill becomes law, it may pose a serious dilemma for many U.S.-based companies in Ireland.

The bill could force some of Ireland’s largest companies, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, which are all U.S.-based, to make a costly choice between violating either Irish or U.S. law, which prohibits U.S. companies from participating in foreign boycotts that the American government does not endorse.

Current E.U. law stipulates that Israeli products originating from beyond the pre-1967 lines cannot be labeled as “Made in Israel,” but does not ban products from there.

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