Israeli minister calls for closure of embassy in Dublin after settlements vote

Irish bill bans Israeli settlement goods, services

By OREN LIEBERMANN AND ANDREW CAREY, CNN
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Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called for the "immediate" closure of his country's embassy in Dublin after the upper house of the Irish parliament voted to ban the import of goods produced in Israeli settlements.

JERUSALEM (CNN) - Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called for the "immediate" closure of his country's embassy in Dublin after the upper house of the Irish parliament voted to ban the import of goods produced in Israeli settlements.

The comments came after Israel summoned Ireland's ambassador in Tel Aviv shortly after the vote at the Irish senate, known as the Seanad, on Wednesday.

"There is no point in summoning the Ambassador of Ireland for a 'reprimand,'" Lieberman wrote in a tweet on Thursday. "Israel needs to immediately close the embassy in Ireland. We don't turn the other cheek to those who boycott us,"

The Irish bill, known as the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 passed 25-20 on Wednesday night, making the first time a European parliament has taken a step to ban Israeli settlement goods, services and natural resources.

The legislation -- introduced as a private members bill -- is strongly opposed by the Irish government, but received enough support from the opposition parties to pass in the Seanad. It still must pass a number of other legislative hurdles. The Irish house, the Dáil, also needs to vote on the bill before it can become law.

Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat lauded the bill's passage, saying in a statement: "I extend our sincere appreciation to the Irish Seanad for standing tall for the principle of justice by approving this historic motion banning trade with the illegal Israeli colonial-settlements in Occupied Palestine."

Erekat also urged the rest of the European Union to take similar steps. "If some countries within the EU are willing to continue encouraging Israel's culture of impunity, it is time for individual member-states to take legitimate actions like the one approved by the Seanad," said Erekat.

Ireland has strongly condemned the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank -- considered illegal under international law.

Israel's Foreign Ministry slammed the bill, saying, "The Irish senate has given its support to a populist, dangerous and extremist anti-Israel boycott initiative that hurts the chances of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians; it will have a negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East."

The Foreign Ministry said it would consider what steps to take in response to the bill.

A similar bill was temporarily shelved in January after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply criticized it, but the Israeli government was unable to stave off Wednesday's vote.

"Passed! Thank you for all the messages of support.. this the first step but an important one. Today we state strongly: Ireland will always stand for int humanitarian law, justice & human rights. Onwards," one of the authors of the bill, Irish senator Frances Black, wrote in a tweet after Wednesday's vote.

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