Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have welcomed a Seanad vote in favour of the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) bill. If the bill passes through the upcoming committee stage, it will prohibit the importation of goods and services from illegal settlements in occupied territories, including Israel’s settlements in Palestine. The bill was passed with 25 votes in favour and 20 against.
Speaking to Trinity News, SJP member Sean Egan explained that the group is “absolutely delighted” the bill passed. “It’s an important step in recognising the incontestable fact that Israeli settlements are illegal and are displacing thousands of Palestinians on an ongoing basis,” said Egan. “Hopefully it will also serve as an international example.”
“Countries need to take a stand and put Apartheid Israel on notice that it cannot continue to expand into Palestinian territory and brutalise its citizens. SJP commends Senator Black and is pleased that all three senators from Trinity supported her bill.”
The Occupied Territories bill has garnered the support of most parties and many independents, with the exception of governing party Fine Gael. Recognising this, Egan said that “Fine Gael’s sole opposition to this Bill is an embarrassment. They continue to pander to a violent apartheid regime against the wishes of the vast majority of Irish people. Hopefully, this bill will be a stepping stone to a more comprehensive boycott in the future”.
Seven county councils around the country have voted to support the Palestinian-led global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. These county councils include Derry and Strabane District Council, Dublin County Council, Galway City Council, Donegal County Council, Monaghan County Council, Mid-Ulster Council, and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. In April, Dublin became the first capital city in the European Union to endorse the BDS movement.
Chairperson of the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Ms Fatin Al Tamimi, also welcomed today’s vote, saying “We in the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and Palestinians around the world, warmly welcome this historic vote, the first of its kind in any Western country. Once again, Ireland is making history and leading the way in its solidarity with the Palestinian people”.
Al Tamimi highlighted the importance of continued support. “Barely a week goes by without some form of protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people taking place, whether solidarity vigils or protests outside shops selling Israeli products which help fund war crimes,” said Al Tamimi. She continued to note that “today is a great day for Palestine, but we cannot rest on our laurels – we must keep pushing for concrete action”.
Last month, the Irish-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) launched a campaign to boycott Eurovision 2019, which is to be held in Israel. The campaign received support from over 6,000 people, including celebrities such as Charlie McGettigan and Christy Moore. The campaign, which is supported by SJP, joins the UK, Sweden, and Iceland in their calls to boycott the contest.
Al Tamimi was critical of other countries’ lack of action on the subject, calling it a “shame” that “Ireland was forced to take this first step alone, as the EU seems more interested in appeasing Israeli colonialism and oppression than in defending the rights of Palestinians”.
“We hope this action will inspire other sympathetic states to take similar measures to help end the seven decades of oppression that my people have endured since the Nakba,” said Al Tamimi.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) voted to support the BDS movement earlier this year. The referendum, held in March, saw 1287 of a total poll of 2050 voting yes. This amounted to 64.5% of the total vote. The vote followed an unsuccessful motion to support the BDS campaign which was rejected last year at Council.
The bill will now be referred to committee stage, where TDs will debate the content of the bill and any necessary amendments will be made.