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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