February 2, 2018
News Press Release

ZOA Condemns Ireland’s Proposed BDS Bill Criminalizing Trade with Judea/Samaria

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned a bill presented in the Irish Senate which, if passed, would make it illegal to import or sell goods produced by Israeli Jews, and only Israeli Jews, because production is based in or goods are made by Jewish residents of Judea/Samaria. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has summoned the Irish ambassador for clarifications over the legislation, which has yet to be voted upon. 

The Irish Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, told the Israeli officials the bill was “raised by independent representatives in the Irish Senate and that the Irish government opposes the initiative.” Amb. Kelly added that the Irish government opposes the Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) campaign but also said that the proposed legislation is not a BDS initiative. In response, Israeli officials told Ambassador Kelly of their “firm opposition to the legal initiative and made it clear that any initiative to boycott settlement products is a BDS initiative” (‘Israel summons Irish ambassador over boycott legislation,’ Israel National News, February 1, 2018).

During a debate on the measure this week, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, while condemning Israeli settlements as “unjust,” recommended that the government oppose the bill and adjourn a vote on it. The Israeli Embassy in Ireland has also denounced the bill, saying that it “only offers an incentive to those who wish to boycott Israel and stands in stark contrast to the guiding principles of free trade and justice.”

The legislation, titled ‘Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018,’ calls to “prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories,” according to Senator Frances Black, the bill’s sponsor (‘Ireland Postpones Controversial Bill Banning Trade With Settlements After Israel Issues Protest,’ The Algemeiner, January 31, 2018).

Efforts to criminalize business relations with Israeli Jews, and only Israeli Jews, because they are Israeli Jews living and operating businesses in the biblical, historic heartland of the Jewish people is clearly and unambiguously part of the BDS campaign which, as admitted freely by its originators, seek to delegitimize, economically harm and ultimately eliminate the Jewish state of Israel.

While the legislation does not specify Judea and Samaria, the Israeli government understood it as singling out the Jewish state, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn the initiative, saying that the legislation’s “sole purpose is to is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel.” 

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA condemns this legislation that has been presented in the Irish Senate which, despite not mentioning Judea/Samaria by name, is clearly intended to criminalize trade and commercial relations by Ireland with Israeli Jewish individuals and companies based in Judea/Samaria.

“Any efforts to criminalize business relations with Israeli Jews, and only Israeli Jews, because they are Israeli Jews living and operating businesses in the biblical, historic heartland of the Jewish people is clearly and unambiguously part of the BDS campaign which, as admitted freely by its originators, seek to delegitimize, economically harm and ultimately eliminate the Jewish state of Israel.

“Such legislation is also blatantly racist and discriminatory, targeting Israeli Jews alone.

“It is a disgrace that such legislation has even been presented in the Irish legislature and the ZOA urges the Irish government to oppose and defeat it.

“The Irish government’s efforts to do this would be greatly enhanced if it dropped the fiction that boycotting Israeli Jewish businesses in Judea/Samaria is somehow not a BDS initiative.

“BDS initiatives of this type are based upon the claim that Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria  are illegal and without legitimacy. This is a falsehood.

“To assert that Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem are illegal  is a false, flat-earth statement based on a willful distortion of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“Article 49 prohibits ‘Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not … The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’

“As Palestinians are being neither deported nor forcibly transferred from Judea/Samaria and Israelis are being neither deported nor forcibly transferred to Judea/Samaria, Article 49 has no bearing on the situation.

“Jewish residence in Judea/Samaria is consistent with international law, ever since the 1920 San Remo Conference earmarked the territory of what became the British League of Nations Mandate of Palestine for Jewish settlement and recognized the millennial bond of the Jewish people and its biblical homeland. 

“This decision, enshrined in the British Mandate for Palestine under the League of Nations that shortly followed, has never been superseded by an internationally binding agreement. To the contrary, it was reaffirmed by Article 80 of the UN Charter. 

“Jews are thus entitled to live and reconstitute their homeland in Judea/Samaria under binding international law, in particular, Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant; the Mandate for Palestine (1922); the San Remo Resolution (1920); the Feisal-Weizmann Treaty (1919) and the 1924 Anglo-American Convention [Treaty], which in 1925 was duly ratified by the US Senate, rendering it a binding US treaty obligation.

“The Oslo agreements do not prohibit Israeli residence and construction in these territories; to the contrary, Oslo provides for Israeli and Palestinian building in zones under their respective controls. Oslo also lists this as a final status issue, to be negotiated by the parties themselves, and Israel is entitled to assert its right for its citizens to live and build in these territories.

“Legally and morally, Jewish residence in Judea/Samaria possesses a fundamental legitimacy which in no way impedes the prospect of an ultimate, genuine Israeli/Palestinian Arab peace settlement, should Palestinian Arabs ever be ready to conclude one.

“Given these facts, there is no legal or moral basis for supporting BDS initiatives of the kind that we see today being presented in the Irish Senate and the ZOA calls upon Dublin to defeat this bill and other initiatives aimed at promoting the BDS campaign in Ireland.”