Monday 23 July 2018

Irish ambassador summoned to meet Israeli officials following proposed Seanad Bill on imports

Ireland's Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly
Ireland's Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly

Sean Nolan

Ireland's Ambassador to Israel has been summoned to meet with officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry following a proposed Seanad Bill regarding Israeli imports into Ireland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed to Independent.ie that our Ambassador in Tel Aviv, Alison Kelly, has been called to a meeting today with the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs this afternoon "at their request".

The request comes a day after a bill by Independent Senator Frances Black to ban the importation of items into Ireland from Israeli settlements regarded as illegal by the Irish State.

The Bill, called the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 was debated in the Seanad on Tuesday and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney made a lengthy contribution to the debate.

He told the Seanad: "From my discussions with Senator Black, I know that it has been put forward in a spirit of wishing to contribute to the well-being of the Palestinian people, and from a desire to bring an end to the construction of settlements on land in the occupied Palestinian territory beyond Israel’s internationally recognised borders.

"These are objectives which I, and the Government, fully share.

The Tanaiste went on to say that "the relentless expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory is unjust, provocative, and undermines the credibility of Israel’s commitment to a peaceful solution to a conflict to which we all want an end."

However, he also declared the Government would oppose the Bill.

"I strongly believe that Ireland can best support the Palestinian and Israeli peoples by remaining a strong and engaged partner in respect of the Middle East, by continuing to exert a positive influence in the EU, and by continuing to advocate with the US Administration, which I will continue to do when I go to the US in three weeks' time.

"It is for this reason that I have recommended that the Government oppose the Bill. Our approach on the Middle East needs to constantly be reassessed. I hope my speech is clear on this: our approach in our efforts to try to achieve a negotiated two-state solution that is fair to both sides should be focused on intensive diplomacy on straight, blunt discussion in our efforts to try to persuade and also in our efforts to try to get a stronger more unified position within the European Union, which is the way the European Union can really be persuasive with an Israeli Government."

Speaking on Twitter last night, Senator Black welcomed the Tanaiste's statement and that he had agreed to revisit the issue in the summer.

In a statement to Independent.ie about today's meeting, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that Ambassador Kelly "will be happy to explain the Government’s position on this issue to them."

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