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Republic moves closer to ban on some Israeli goods

By Ben Kelly

The Irish Republic has moved a step closer towards banning Israeli products produced in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill passed through the Irish parliament's upper house, the Seanad, yesterday by 25 votes to 20, and will now advance to the committee stage.

While other countries have issued condemnations or moved to label Israeli items produced in the occupied Palestinian territories, this Bill is believed to be the first which would ban the import of the goods altogether.

It was proposed by Frances Black, an independent senator who is also a well-known singer in Ireland. Ms Black has campaigned passionately on the issue, and brought Palestinian farmers to be present in the Seanad during the vote.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned the Irish ambassador in January over the issue and expressed his dissatisfaction, and the Israeli Embassy in Ireland condemned the Bill last week.

While the Bill enjoys the support of Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Independents, it is not supported by Fine Gael. But when he addressed the Seanad yesterday ahead of the vote, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was outnumbered.

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