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Ireland Moves to Ban Israeli Settlement Goods


FILE - The upper and lower houses of the Irish Parliament gather at Leinster House, the seat of the Irish Parliament, in Dublin, Ireland, June 14, 2017. Parliament's Lower House is to debate and vote on a bill banning the import of West Bank settlement goods.

Ireland's Senate has passed a bill banning imports of goods and services from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

If passed by the Lower House of Parliament, Ireland will become the first European Union country to ban settlement goods.

But the bill lacks the support of the Irish government. Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the ban was logistically impossible to impose because Ireland's trade policies are tied to the EU.

"I respect this house and its decision, but respectfully disagree," he told the Senate.

Frances Black, the independent senator who introduced the bill, compared it to early Irish efforts to oppose apartheid in South Africa. Ireland "will always stand on the side of international law, human rights and justice," she said Wednesday.

The vote drew strong condemnation from Tel Aviv. Israel's foreign ministry criticized the Irish Senate for supporting "a populist, dangerous and extremist anti-Israel boycott initiative.''

Israel's foreign ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, warned the vote would have "a negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East."

"The absurd in the Irish Senate's initiative is that it will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott," he said.

Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat welcomed the news, calling it a "courageous step."