Liberman: Israel Should Close Embassy in Dublin, Ireland

Father Manuel Musallam gives a sermon as he leads the Sunday prayers at the Latin church in Gaza city on 8 July 2007

Ireland is on its way to becoming the first country to prohibit "the import and sales of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories".

Nonetheless, Irish Sen. Frances Black, who sponsored the legislation, called on colleagues to support the bill "to state firmly that Irish foreign policy will always stand on the side of global law, human rights and justice".

THE Irish Parliament Upper House has passed a bill to ban Israeli settlement goods on Wednesday [11 June], the first parliament chamber in the European Union to do so.

The bill was first tabled in January of this year, but was delayed after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that Ireland's ambassador to Israel be summoned to account for the changes outlined in the documents.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have welcomed a Seanad vote in favour of the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) bill.

To his part, senior PLO official, Dr. Saeb Erekat on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership extended honest appreciation to the Irish Seanad for "standing tall for the principle of justice" by approving this historic motion, saying it is a courageous step that builds on the historic ties between Ireland and Palestine, as well as it shows the way forward for the rest of the European Union.

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Israel slammed the bill, saying "the Irish Senate has given its support to a populist, risky and extremist anti-Israel boycott initiative that hurts the chances of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians".

Calling Israeli settlements a "war crime", she compared her proposal to early Irish efforts to oppose apartheid in South Africa, adding Ireland "will always stand on the side of global law, human rights and justice".

Speaking to Trinity News, SJP member Sean Egan explained that the group is "absolutely delighted" the bill passed. There is a clear hypocrisy here: "How can we condemn the settlements as 'unambiguously illegal, ' as theft of land and resources, but happily buy the proceeds of this crime?"

Complying with an Irish ban on commerce with Israeli companies based in Judea and Samaria would violate U.S. anti-boycott laws, which require American firms to refuse participation in foreign boycotts that the U.S. does not sanction, and could result in substantial fines for those companies.

But Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned it risked "fanning flames" in the Middle East. "The bill is focused [solely] on the sale of products from settlements and not on trade within the Green Line". It becomes law only with the signature of the Irish president. The campaign received support from over 6,000 people, including celebrities such as Charlie McGettigan and Christy Moore.

Proponents of the measure argued Israel is profiting from its illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories and the stalled peace process shows no signs of yielding a resolution. Ireland was also the first European country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as well.

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