Sunday 23 October 2016

President Higgins meets with Israeli Ambassador to defuse potential spat over customary farewell

Published 12/08/2015 | 16:05

President Michael D.Higgins
President Michael D.Higgins

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has defused a potential diplomatic spat with Israel by meeting the country’s ambassador to Ireland this afternoon.

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The Irish Independent yesterday revealed the row between Israeli Ambassador Boaz Modai and the President’s office over claims Mr Higgin’s officials failed to organise a customary farewell meeting with the diplomat.

However, a last minute meeting was organised for this afternoon after the embassy expressed concern over Mr Modai not being invited to Áras an Uachtaráin for a final meeting with the president.

Mr Higgins is understood to have returned from Galway last night to attend the meeting with Mr Modai who is due to leave Ireland this afternoon.

An Israeli embassy spokesman said the meeting with Mr Higgins was “polite and cordial”

“The controversy yesterday was not even mentioned,” he said.

“The President and Ambassador discussed the Middle East, Ireland-Israel relations, and some personal issues of common interest. The embassy is glad the meeting between the Ambassador and the President went ahead in the end,” he added.

Mr Higgins presented Mr Modai and his wife Nurit with a book of his own personal poetry.

The embassy insisted it followed protocol and put in a request with the Department of Foreign Affairs for a meeting with the president in May.

However, the Department claims it did not receive a request and the President’s office also said it did not receive any correspondence on the matter.

This afternoon the embassy stood over the claim that it sent the request to the Department.

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