Ireland’s Seanad (Senate) has approved the first stage of the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018. The Bill aims to prohibit trade in goods produced in settlements and the provision of services to settlements. Sponsored by Independent Senator Frances Black the drafting process was led by GLAN under the leadership of legal officer Gerry Liston.
As currently drafted, the Bill will apply automatically on enactment only to the Israeli occupation of Palestine on the basis that Israel has been confirmed by the International Court of Justice to be an Occupying Power over the West Bank. Israel established and maintains the settlement in occupied territory in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Irish Government now has the option to extend the application of the Bill to other occupied territories such as the occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.
Despite the property rights regime underpinning the establishment of settlements in occupied territory being illegal, many countries, including Ireland, provide a market for the goods and services produced in the settlements (and at least in the case of Israel often exported by other businesses from within Israel proper).
As a piece of implementing legislation for other domestic laws that regulate the use of illegal property by businesses, the bill could eventually guarantee Ireland’s non-recognition of occupying states’ claims to sovereignty over occupied territory in a number of ongoing occupations.
A coalition of NGOs, including Sadaka – the Ireland Palestine Alliance, Trócaire (a justice and development agency established by the Irish Catholic Church), Christian Aid Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, are working to ensure the progression of the Occupied Territories Bill through both houses of the Irish parliament.