Lawfare Project warns Irish parliament of the economic consequences of anti-Israel legislation

The Lawfare Project has submitted a detailed memorandum to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the Irish Parliament highlighting some of the potential economic consequences of the "Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018." The Lawfare Project’s memorandum was part of a broader submission made to the parliamentary committee by the Ireland Israel Alliance, assisted by UK Lawyers for Israel.

The Irish bill, which passed its initial vote last year, would make it a criminal offense in Ireland, punishable by a fine of up to €250,000 ($292,000) or up to five years in prison, "to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances; and to provide for related matters."

The bill outlaws the supply of any goods or services produced even only partially by any Israeli beyond the pre-1967 lines. This would apply not only to direct trade between Israel and Ireland, but to any Irish citizen or company anywhere in the world.

The Lawfare Project’s submission explained that, if this bill becomes law, it could have severe implications for major American companies operating in Ireland, and could lead them to relocate those operations. Given laws in the United States against boycotts of Israel, companies might find that complying with the Irish legislation would put them in breach of the American law if the Irish bill were passed.

Out of the 50 largest Irish companies in turnover, 13 are subsidiaries of American companies. These include tech giants that have become integral to the Irish economy such as Apple Ireland (6,000 employees; €119.2 billion turnover in 2017), Google Ireland (3,338 employees; €32.2 billion turnover in 2017), Facebook (4,500 employees; €18.7 billion turnover in 2017), and Microsoft Ireland Operations Ltd (2,000 employees; €18.5 billion turnover in 2017).

If the bill was passed, every employee of those companies would be liable to criminal prosecution. Should the American subsidiaries prioritize complying with U.S. law above complying with new Irish legislation, which would seem likely, the result would take a huge chunk out of the revenue of the Irish treasury.

Brooke Goldstein, The Lawfare Project's Executive Director, commented:

"Ultimately, political vendettas and double standards do not make for good legislation. If passed, this bill risks doing enormous damage to the Irish economy and to the ability of American firms to operate in Ireland. Irish legislators will have to decide whether such potentially enormous damage to the Irish economy is a price worth paying in order to pursue a campaign of discrimination, demonization, and double standards against Israel."