Irish deputy premier rejects ‘absurd’ ambassador comments over Palestine

Ireland’s deputy premier has rejected as “absurd” the suggestion that Ireland’s plan to recognise the Palestinian state would be akin to “rewarding terrorism”.

The Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich, was asked about Ireland beginning discussions on recognising the state of Palestine on Newstalk radio on Friday morning, to which she replied: “We ask – why reward terrorism?”

Responding, Tanaiste and foreign affairs minister Micheal Martin said it was an “absurd and unacceptable assertion to make”.

“There are many, many countries around the world over the years that have recognised the Palestinian state,” he said, speaking at a party event on Friday

“There was a time that Israel committed to its two-state solution, I think under (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu what we have witnessed from Israel is deliberate attempts to undermine the prospects of a two-state solution.

“The failure to rein in settlers and settlements is evidence of that.

“It is just wrong to make that assertion, I also want to make the assertion to the ambassador as well, I think the ambassador was very incorrect in saying that the Irish Government had not condemned Hamas as an organisation, we have, we have consistently condemned Hamas, the objectives of Hamas.”

He said the ambassador had accepted that Mr Martin had condemned the “heinous” October 7 attack.

Israel-Hamas conflict
Israel’s Ambassador to Ireland Dana Erlich at the Israeli Embassy in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

He said Ireland is working with other states with the aim of “getting a group of countries together that would collectively and in a co-ordinated way together recognise the Palestinian state”.

“That work is continuing and I don’t want to impose any timelines on other countries,” he said, adding that he spoke to the Spanish, Norwegian and Slovenian foreign affairs ministers this week.

Asked about the party’s decision not to invite the Israeli ambassador to the party’s annual conference in Dublin this weekend, he said it was a party rather than a Government event.

“This is a party Ard Fheis, not a Government Ard Fheis,” the Fianna Fail leader said on Friday.

“I met with the ambassador recently in my office, I had a lengthy meeting with the ambassador where I communicated the Irish Government’s views in respect of our perspective in terms of what’s happening in Gaza.

“And it was a lengthy, respectful discussion.”

Fianna Fail Ard Fheis 2024
Tanaiste Micheal Martin ahead of the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis, at the Dublin Royal Convention Centre (PA)

“I was asked over 12 months ago to expel the Russian ambassador, I was asked to expel the Iranian ambassador. If you take that to a logical conclusion, one could be expelling a lot of ambassadors in a given year.

“But the importance of diplomacy is you keep the channel of communications open between governments through their diplomats,” he said, adding that diplomats in Tel Aviv, Cairo and Jordan had been useful in getting citizens out of Gaza.

“That’s what surprises me about political parties come forward calling for expulsions of diplomats, I think it’s a simplistic, shallow way, I think, of developing policy.”

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –