The Irish Muslim Council — Comhairle Mhoslamach na hÉireann is one of over 100 civil society organisations supporting the launch of a new European Citizens’ Initiative that aims to ban trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories.
The coalition includes international organisations such as Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and Avaaz, while here at home the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Trocaire, Action Aid, ICTU, UpLift, Christian Aid, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace, Financial Justice Ireland, Sadaka and Comhlámh are some of the 20+ organisations involved.
A European Citizens’ Initiative is an official instrument for democratic participation of citizens in EU policy making. If an ECI garners one million signatures from EU citizens over 12 months the European Commission must consider and debate the petition’s demands. This ECI demands EU legislation that will outlaw trade with illegal settlements, anywhere and at all times, including trade with Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.
This ECI was originally rejected for registration by the European Commission, and campaigners were forced to take a case to the European Court of Justice to compel the Commission to accept it.
Speaking at the Launch, Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign chairperson, Ms. Fatin Al Tamimi, condemned the EU’s inaction on settlements, stating that: “The EU has been shamefully inconsistent in its respect of the rule of law. Even though illegal settlements constitute a war crime under international law, the EU allows trade with them. In the case of Israel’s settlements, the UN Security Council has called on states to render them no assistance, and the European Union has repeatedly declared that they constitute a flagrant violation of international law. Nevertheless, the EU continues to trade with them, which has aided and emboldened their ongoing expansion.”
Ms. Al Tamimi continued by drawing a comparison to the stalled Occupied Territories Bill in Ireland, saying: “Despite the overwhelming support of the Irish people for the Occupied Territories Bill, the Irish government has disgracefully refused to enact it. This ECI now gives us a rare and exciting chance to speak directly to the political bureaucrats in Ireland and the EU, and to propose a European-wide Occupied Territories Bill, that will force the EU to end its ongoing complicity with illegal settlements.” Ms. Al Tamimi concluded by calling on ordinary people to support the initiative: “Together, we the citizens of Europe can make our collective voice heard to change on this issue. We can stop EU trade with, and sustenance for, illegal settlements in occupied territories, including my own country of Palestine. I urge all people who care about human rights and international law to take just two minutes to sign the petition at www.uplift.ie/stopsettlements”