PM raps visiting Irish foreign minister over support for Palestinians
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PM raps visiting Irish foreign minister over support for Palestinians

Netanyahu and his deputy FM take Simon Coveney to task for failing to condemn glorification of terror, funding NGOs that delegitimize Israel

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney (left) meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 11, 2017. (GPO)
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney (left) meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 11, 2017. (GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday rebuked visiting Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney‏ over his country’s traditional support for the Palestinians.

According to a readout of their meeting provided by the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu “expressed his dissatisfaction over Ireland’s traditional stance and told the Foreign Minister that his country does not condemn Palestinians for incitement and for glorifying those who commit terrorist attacks.”

The discussion focused mostly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the readout said.

Netanyahu also challenged Coveney over Dublin’s assistance to NGOs that “call for the destruction of Israel,” according to the readout. The prime minister further noted that “many European countries are overlooking the core problem of the conflict – the Palestinian refusal to recognize the state of the Jews.”

During his three-day trip to the region, the foreign minister is scheduled to meet with “representatives of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs funded by Irish Aid,” according to his office.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney lays a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance, where the names of major death and concentration camps are written, during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum commemorating the six million Jews killed by Nazis during World War II, in Jerusalem on July 11, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON)
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney lays a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance, where the names of major death and concentration camps are written, during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum commemorating the six million Jews killed by Nazis during World War II, in Jerusalem on July 11, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON)

The Israeli readout did not cite Coveney‏’s response. On his personal Twitter page, Coveney‏, who became Ireland’s foreign minister only last month, posted a photo of his “[g]ood straight talking meeting” with Netanyahu, noting that he “raised concerns firmly and listened to Israeli perspectives.”

Ireland has long been one of the Palestinians’ most staunch backers in Europe. Coveney’s visit comes on the heels of visits to Israel by the leaders of India and Rwanda, both of whom hailed bilateral ties and did not place great emphasis on the Palestinian issue.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who participated in the Coveney-Netanyahu meeting, said that the Israeli side “made plain that the settlements will remain [under Israeli control] under any agreement.”

The current Gaza electricity crisis was discussed as well, she said, adding that “the Palestinian leadership is doing everything to abuse the Gazan population.”

Israel was disinclined to undertake a move like its 2005 disengagement from Gaza, after which the Strip came under the control of Hamas, she added. “We are not ready for a second Gaza,” she said, presumably indicating the government’s unwillingness to withdraw from the West Bank.

The deputy minister demanded Dublin cease its support for “organizations that seek to delegitimize Israel” such as Al Haq.

Earlier on Tuesday, Coveney visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, he is scheduled to meet with President Reuven Rivlin. On Thursday, he will meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki in Ramallah. He will also meet with United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolai Mladenov, and UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,Robert Piper.

“I am not new to the region and the issues faced, but this is my first visit as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade,” Coveney said in a statement issued Monday.

“In that context, I am looking forward to hearing a diverse range of views… Of course, I will also use the opportunity to make clear Ireland’s concerns about the impact of the continuing occupation and the fact that, as things stand, the prospects of a comprehensive peace agreement remain dim.”

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