Sinn Féin TD John Brady has expressed disappointment in the government decision to refuse to support his legislation designed to compel the Irish Strategic Investment Fund to divest itself of all current assets, and prohibit future investments, in any companies included on the UN Database of companies operating within the illegal Israeli settlements.
Government has made much of the humanitarian credentials of ISIF, and the Wicklow TD accused them of adopting the same arguments against the UN Database as the Israeli government has in the past.
Rather than support the Sinn Féin bill, the government has opted to bring forward an amendment in an attempt to kick the issue down the road for nine months.
Teachta Brady said:
“Once again, we witness this government delaying and disrupting important legislation through a strategy of obfuscation as it seeks to undermine the veracity of the UN Database on which the legislation is based.
“The human rights council resolution which established the UN Database clearly provides ‘for a database of all business enterprises involved in [settlement activities] to be annually updated’.
“This is the language of the UN resolution. There is absolutely no ambiguity about this being a living database. It is clearly not a one-off database, when the resolution that created the database has inbuilt text that mandates annual update.
“The fact is that this bill is premised on the necessity of Ireland to abide by the rules of international law – it is a matter of justice for Palestinian people.
“And when justice is delayed – the government in this instance – justice is denied.
“How many Palestinians must be displaced by illegal Israeli settlers while this government refuses to give support to a piece of legislation that is intended to remedy a moral wrong?
“It is immoral that the Strategic Investment Fund invests Irish taxpayers’ money in companies operating in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“Other countries have used the database to divest from companies contained in it. In Norway, five regional councils and nine municipalities, including the Oslo Municipality, have banned the procurement of goods from illegal settlements.
“In July 2021, the Norwegian pension company KLP divested from 16 settlement companies on the grounds that there is ‘an unacceptable risk that the excluded companies are contributing to the abuse of human rights in situations of war and conflict through their links with the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank’.
“Norwegian asset manager Storebrand has divested from over 23 settlement companies, publicly stating that ‘investors cannot fuel the conflict by investing in companies that contribute to the occupation regime and the expansion of illegal settlements’.
“In the past year the Government Pension Fund Global (Norway) has divested from five settlement companies, because of the ‘unacceptable risk that the companies contribute to systematic violations of individuals’ rights in situations of war or conflict …based on the companies’ activities associated with Israeli settlements on the West Bank’.
“It is very clear that the government’s arguments to shelve this legislation do not add up. They know that outright opposition will earn the anger of the Irish people, who are rightly outraged at the actions of the ISIF in their name.
“There is nothing in the legislation that cannot be dealt with at committee stage. I call on the government in advance of a vote on the legislation tomorrow to drop their opposition.”