Ireland’s Boycott-Israel Bill Violates EU and International Law and Will Damage Trade with the U.S.

Jan. 31 2018

Yesterday the Irish Senate considered a measure that would make it a crime—punishable by up to five years in prison—for citizens or corporations to do business with Israelis in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, or the Golan Heights. (Voting on the bill has been postponed until a later date.) Orde Kittrie writes:

The senator who introduced the bill, Frances Black, previously signed a letter calling for a boycott of all Israeli products and services. While the bill does not mention Israel or Palestine by name, Black and its other sponsors have announced that it was designed to . . . prohibit Irish transactions relating to Israeli settlers and settlements. . . . The bill would punish Irish citizens and residents, as well as companies incorporated in Ireland, that engage in such transactions, regardless of whether the violation occurs in or outside Ireland. . . . .

[The] bill, if enacted, would be inconsistent with EU and international law. For example, the EU has exclusive competence for the common commercial policy, and member states are not permitted to adopt unilateral restrictions on imports into the EU.

The bill is also inconsistent with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the international agreement covering trade in goods. . . . [Furthermore, it] would gravely undermine Ireland’s economic links to the United States, which are vital to Irish prosperity. U.S. investment in 2016 accounted for 67 percent of all foreign direct investment in Ireland. Yet this bill would make U.S. companies with subsidiaries in Ireland, Irish companies with subsidiaries in the U.S., and their employees who are Irish or reside in Ireland choose between violating Irish law or violating the U.S. Export Administration regulations [which forbid participation in such boycotts]. . . . These companies would also be forced by Irish law to run afoul of some or all of the two-dozen U.S. state laws that impose sanctions on companies that boycott Israel.

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More about: BDS, EU, Ireland, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy

The Dangers of Diplomacy with Iran

Aug. 21 2018

Although President Trump’s offer to meet with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic was rejected, the possibility of direct negotiations remains. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz warn that Tehran could use talks to stall and gain leverage over Washington:

The mullahs understand that just by staying at the table, Americans usually offer up concessions. [They] are betting that the Trump administration may become weaker over time, preoccupied with domestic politics. Best to entangle America in protracted diplomacy while awaiting what the regime expects will be midterm Republican losses in Congress and the return of a more flexible Democratic president to power in 2021. This is what [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei probably meant when he stressed that negotiations have to wait until America is softened up.

Diplomacy would surely blunt the impact of U.S. pressure. The mullahs believe they can undermine the escalation of [U.S.] sanctions by being diplomatically flirtatious and know well that America seldom disrupts negotiations with military action. Indeed, as a prelude to the talks, Iran may even resume its nuclear activities to frighten the Europeans and gain leverage by putting even more pressure on Washington to adjust its red lines.

Should negotiations begin, the Trump team should take sensible precautions to avoid the predicament of the Obama negotiators. The administration will need to maintain its maximum-pressure campaign and its negotiating demands. . . . Any negotiations with the Islamic Republic should be time-limited, and Washington must be prepared to leave the table when it confronts the usual pattern of regime bombast and mendacity.

Donald Trump should insist on direct talks with the supreme leader, as he did with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un: Rouhani is a lame duck without any real influence. The administration also should demand that Europeans join its sanctions policy targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program, support for terrorism, and human-rights abuses as a price for their participation in the talks.

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More about: Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy