Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Trade Relations

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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99. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he will take to restrict trade with Israel of goods produced in areas which was agreed on 26 May 2021 have been de facto annexed from Palestine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30073/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I am, of course, aware of the recent Motion that was passed by the House on 26th May last and the Government support for the Motion outlined in the debate by my Colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Minister Coveney set out the Government's position in some detail and the work he and his Department has undertaken at EU level as well as in the UN Security Council in this matter.

Ireland distinguishes between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967, in line with international law and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. This position is common across all Government Departments.

International Trade is a competence vested in the European Commission under the EU Treaties whereby the Union's negotiating strength is as a bloc of 27 Member States representing some 450 million citizens. As such, actions, decisions and negotiations conducted by the Commission on behalf of the Member States are more impactful than unilateral action by a single Member State.

Ireland and Israel have no bilateral trade or investment agreements. Trade relations between the EU and Israel are governed by a Free Trade Agreement that is part of the 2000 EU-Israel Association Agreement whereby the EU and Israel have continuously worked on improving trade and economic relations and have signed several agreements to that end:

- Agreement on agriculture and fisheries which greatly improved market access (2010)

- "Open Skies" aviation agreement (fully entered into force in 2018) which further opened EU-Israel air travel and the related Eurocontrol association agreement (2016) which helps to coordinate air traffic and ensures security

- Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of industrial products (ACAA) which currently brings mutual recognition of pharmaceutical certification

In addition, as confirmed in the 2015 “Interpretative Notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967”, the European Union, in line with international law, does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. Products requiring origin labelling which are produced in Israeli settlements may not carry the indication ‘product of Israel’ as settlements do not form part of Israeli territory according to international law,  and such an indication would be incorrect and misleading.

All trade measures must be compatible with World Trade Organisation rules and with the principles and rules governing the operation of the Single Market. In light of the issue of  the EU legal competence mentioned already, potentially illegal trade measures by either the Union or by individual Member States, measures which would be impossible to enforce operationally, would only serve to undermine EU and Irish government efforts as regards the Middle East Peace Process.

In relation to the very latest developments in the long-running Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the EU's collective responses, these are led, in the first instance, by the EU's Foreign Affairs Council where Ireland is represented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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