An Irish law that would have criminalized purchasing goods produced by Israeli companies has been sidelined, thanks to the Trump administration.
By: The Tower and United with Israel Staff
American diplomacy derailed a bill that was set to pass Ireland’s parliament, which would have outlawed Irish citizens from buying souvenirs in Jerusalem or in Judea and Samaria, Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon reported Monday.
Last week, Ireland’s parliament was poised to pass legislation that would have made the purchase of souvenirs in Israel a criminal act, punishable by a maximum of five years in jail and a $310,000 fine.
When the Trump administration became aware of the bill, which is thought to be part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel, it opened up channels of communication with Irish politicians to warn them of the significant consequences they would face if they adopted the legislation.
Independent senator Frances Black, who introduced the bill, has previously signed a letter calling for a boycott of all Israeli products and services.
The administration “made clear to Irish leaders that passage of the bill would put them starkly at odds with the United States and subject them to inclusion on a list of countries supporting boycotts of the Jewish state,” Kredo reported.
While some legislators called the legislation a “crackpot bill,” it appeared to have enough support to pass.
“This law was a done deal in Ireland,” an official at a pro-Israel organization who credited the Trump administration for taking the initiative, told the Free Beacon. “It was going to pass, and there would have been this insane situation where the Irish would be sending people to jail for buying souvenirs in the Old City [in Jerusalem], while the US would have to put them on our list of countries that boycott Israel, which is not a good list to be on.”
“Our strong opposition to boycotts and sanctions of the State of Israel is well known,” an unnamed State Department official, who was unauthorized to speak on the record, told the Free Beacon. “We look to other countries to join us in bringing an end to anti-Israel bias.”
While the bill is officially tabled until the summer, a number of observers don’t expect it to be reconsidered any time in the near future due to the administration’s opposition.
Bill contravenes US, European law
Writing for The Hill, Orde Kittrie, a law professor at Arizona State University, explained that the proposed bill runs afoul of US laws and if enacted, could force US companies with Irish subsidiaries to choose between violating the Irish law or violating the US Export Administration Regulations, which require US firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the US does not sanction.
The bill would also subject companies to US state-level sanctions, violate European Union and international law, threaten Ireland’s economic links to the US, and hinder the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, some 700 US companies employ over 150,000 people in Ireland. Similarly, some 227 Irish companies employ an estimated 120,000 people in the US.
Kittrie noted that while there are several contentious occupations closer to Europe, including Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, the bill’s sponsors suggest that the Irish legislation is carefully drafted to apply only to territories connected to Israel.
No other law prohibiting trade with Israel as a criminal offense has been enacted in other European countries.
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