September 21, 2012 - 12:00am

A committee in Ireland’s Oireachtas, the country’s legislature, has called for a national ban on imported products from Israeli settlements considered internationally as illegal.

The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade is set to write a proposal on the ban to the deputy head of government, Eamonn Gilmore, who is also the minister of foreign affairs, Irish Times reported on Wednesday.


The committee took the decision following demands from various human rights organizations, including the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

Israeli settlements have long been considered by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union as the biggest problem obstructing the peace process in the Middle East.

Joe O’Brien, an advocacy coordinator with EAPPI, told Irish Times that Ireland could take a symbolic influential stand by banning products and goods on sale in Ireland from illegal Israeli settlements from the Irish market.

Some of these products include agricultural crops, plastic garden furniture and soda stream products from east Jerusalem in the occupied Palestinian territories.

O’Brien added that the move would be internationally relevant despite that the value of imported products from Israeli settlements stands at a small figure ranging between €7 and €8 million a year.

“We have the reality of illegal settlement produce in Ireland. The Government has, in our view and in the view of an eminent legal expert [Professor of international law at University of Cambridge, James Crawford] the legal framework to institute a ban,” said O’Brien as quoted by the Irish news site. “Ireland is connected to the illegal settlement policies and realities and what we are proposing is a simple washing of hands.”
Senator Jim Walsh, who is supporting the ban, said, “In the background we shouldn’t rule out banning all Israeli products”.

Irish Labor Party member Eric Byrne, who is also supporting the ban, said the government should take the lead in the European Union by establishing such a ban and should champion an EU-wide ban during Ireland’s presidency next year.


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