May 20, 2012
May 20, 2012
Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore’s recent statements that he may push for an EU wide boycott of products from Israeli settlements if Israel does not quickly change its settlements policy in Palestinian territories has stirred controversy.
Gilmore, whose country will take over the rotating presidency of the European Union in January 2013, also said his government may seek to have certain extremist Israeli settlers banned from the EU if they do not stop their violence in settlement areas, according to a report by the Irish Times.
The ministers criticized “the marked acceleration of settlement construction” following a 2010 freeze, and slammed evictions of Palestinian families and demolition of their homes in east Jerusalem. “It’s a very strong statement, particularly in relation to the illegal settlements on the West Bank, which are making the achievement of a two-state solution in the Middle East impossible,” Gilmore said.
“I think at that stage if there isn’t a change in Israeli policy in relation to settlements in particular, I think we may have to look at some additional measures,” the second-most senior officer in the government of Ireland said.
“I think we may have to look at the question of banning products from settlement areas into the EU. We have always resisted the idea of boycotts in relation to Israel. But I think a distinction has to be drawn here between Israel and the settlements.”
Joe O’Brien, of Irland’s Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), wrote in a letter to the Irish Times that Gilmore’s proposal “is a welcome development that is both measured and moral.”
But global civic organization Avaaz denounced the Irish proposal and urged Gilmore and the Irish government not to seek a boycott of Israeli goods, but instead “look to build bridges between various communities in the Middle East.”