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The New Arab

Ireland parliament advances ban on Israeli illegal settlement goods

There are at least 126 settlements in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 July, 2018

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Irish lawmakers have passed the first reading of a bill banning the import and sale of products made in illegal Israeli settlements.

Irish lawmakers have passed the first reading of a bill banning the import and sale of products made in illegal Israeli settlements.

Ireland's parliament voted on Wednesday on the landmark legislation, with support from opposition and independent lawmakers.

Lawmakers voted in favour of the bill by 25 votes to 20 against.

"This is a first step, but an important one. Today we state strongly: Ireland will always stand for int humanitarian law, justice & human rights," lawmaker Frances Black, who wrote the bill, tweeted after the vote.

The bill is now expected to move through the rest of the stages in parliament relatively quickly next term before going to committee stage and then for final debate and vote, The Irish Times reported.

If passed the bill would make Ireland the first EU country to prohibit goods originating in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Ireland has had strong ties with the Palestinian cause, because of perceived shared features between the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and Ireland's own battle to free itself from centuries of British rule.

Voting on the bill was supposed to take place in January, but was postponed by Irish authorities after protests from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli premier at the time said it would "harm Israel" and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

On Tuesday, the Palestine Liberation Organisation urged Irish lawmakers to vote for the bill, the official Palestinian news agency reported.

"Stand up for what you believe in and hold Israel to account. All settlement products must be banned," PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said, addressing Irish parliamentarians.

Israel's West Bank settlements are considered illegal under international law and are bitterly opposed by Palestinians.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. Settlements there are seen as major stumbling blocks to a peace deal since they are built on land the Palestinian wants for their future state.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live among nearly three million Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

There are at least 126 settlements in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem, according to a September 2016 report from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.

The settlements are widely seen as an existential threat to the two-state solution agreed between Palestinians and Israelis in the 1993 Oslo Accords.

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