Tuesday 13 November 2018

Israeli minister calls for 'immediate closure' of country's embassy in Ireland

The Israeli Embassy in Dublin (inset Israel's Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman)
The Israeli Embassy in Dublin (inset Israel's Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

ISRAEL’S defence minister has called for the “immediate” closure of the country’s embassy in Dublin following the passage of a bill blocking the import of Israeli goods produced in occupied Palestinian territories.

Ireland’s ambassador to Israel, Aoife Kelly, was summoned to the country’s foreign ministry over the bill.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018, proposed by Senator Frances Black, seeks to ban the import of goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. If passed Ireland would be the first EU country to impose such a ban.

The Government has opposed the bill but it received cross party support from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and other parties and passed in the Seanad this week.

In a statement the Israeli defence ministry termed the bill “absurd” and said “it will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zone affected by the boycott”.

“The Irish Senate has given its support to a populist, dangerous and extremist anti - Israel boycott initiative that hurts the chances of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians; it will have a negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East,” a spokesperson for the ministery said.

The country’s defence minister, Avigdor Liberman, however has said summoning the ambassador for a reprimand did not go far enough, saying the embassy in Dublin should be “immediately” closed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney had lobbied for people to oppose the bill which he said the Attorney General had issued a 52 paragraph letter on, outlining how it was not implementable.

Mr Coveney warned that the passage of the bill would damage relationships the Irish government had worked hard to build.

The bill will need to pass through the Dáil before becoming law but with the same mix of support from Opposition parties it looks likely to pass through the lower house.

The Seanad bill has received international attention and was supported publicly by Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters. 

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