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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Sasko Lazarov/ Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign protestors outside Leinster House
# occupied territories
Palestinian campaigners condemn delay to bill to prevent Irish investment in Israeli settlements
The bill would stop the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund from investing in companies that operate in the occupied territories.

CAMPAIGN GROUPS HAVE condemned the Government for delaying a bill to prevent the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) from investing in companies that operate in Israeli settlements in Palestine.

The Illegal Israeli Settlements Divestment Bill was debated in the Dáil yesterday, with the Government amending the legislation to delay discussions by nine months.

The bill, brought forward by Sinn Féin TD John Brady, would mandate the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to divest all assets currently invested in Israeli settlements as well as preventing any further investments in the territory.

The proposed legislation would be based off an existing UN database listing companies that operate in Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian lands. ISIF currently has investments in four Israeli banks that are operating within settlements.

However, the Government has amended the bill to push back debate by another nine months over concerns that the inclusion of the UN database in legislation could lead to potential legal challenges from companies listed.

A spokesperson for the Government said that Finance Minister Michael McGrath did not reject the intent of the bill.

The spokesperson added that there was no guarantee that the UN would either add or remove companies from the list, citing “political sensitivities” around the database.

“While Minister McGrath doesn’t reject the overall policy intent of the bill, he raised a number of concerns, including that the bill is based on a database that has not been updated since it was established in 2020,” the Government spokesperson said.

“It is understood that there is no agreement that the UN will update the list in the future due to significant political sensitivities around adding or removing companies from it.”

However, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) have labelled the Government’s decision to delay the bill as “shameful”.

“The government’s decision is, frankly, shameful. How long must Palestinians wait for even the slightest smidgen of accountability for those who profit from their suffering?” said Zoë Lawlor, IPSC chairperson.

“If the government truly believes that the Irish state should operate an ethical investment policy for taxpayers’ money, then it should remove its opposition to the Bill and tomorrow allow it to proceed to committee stage, where any genuine wrinkles in the text can be ironed out – not kick it down the line for nine months.”

The Government spokesperson added that McGrath would be engaging with both the Foreign Affairs committee and the NTMA on how best to progress the “broad intention” of the legislation.

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