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TANAISTE and former Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore had gifts for Israeli dignitaries during a visit to the region - but not their Palestinian counterparts.

TANAISTE and former Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore had gifts for Israeli dignitaries during a visit to the region - but not their Palestinian counterparts.

Mr Gilmore visited the troubled region in January 2012 and he held meetings with, among others, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Gilmore has long been a supporter of an independent Palestinian sate, telling the UN General Assembly in September of 2012 that it was "long overdue".

Documents obtained by the Herald under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act revealed a list of presents purchased for the Israelis on Mr Gilmore's trip earlier that year, but none for the Palestinians.

Mr Netanyahu was given a pair of Declan Killean cufflinks, worth €85, while his deputy at the time Dan Meridor, the current minister for intelligence and atomic energy, received a €55, Bog Oak twist pen.

Even controversial, ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman received a gift, a €50 Tipperary Crescent picture frame.

Mr Gilmore's visit to Israel and Palestine was publicised by the Government at the time. His first meeting on the trip was with Mr Abbas and the two discussed ongoing peace efforts.

The Tanaiste also met with the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad al Malaki, where the effects of the blockade in Gaza and regional developments, including the current crisis in Syria, were discussed

Asked why gifts were bought for the Israelis on the trip, but not the Palestinians, a statement from the department said it followed advice from the region.

"Advice was sought from our embassy in Tel Aviv and our representative office in Ramallah ahead of the Tanaiste's visit in relation to gifts.

"Our embassy in Tel Aviv indicated that arrangements for an exchange of gifts had been agreed with the Israeli side, whereas our representative office in Ramallah indicated that no gifts were required.

hnews@herald.ie


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