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

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.

Read more at The Hill

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

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood