Israel pans bid to fly Palestinian flag over Dublin city hall

Foreign Ministry characterizes motion as a ‘white flag of surrender to terrorism’; measure to be ratified on May 8

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Demonstrators in Dublin protest Israeli military operations in Gaza in early 2009. (CC BY/albertw via
Demonstrators in Dublin protest Israeli military operations in Gaza in early 2009. (CC BY/albertw via

Israel sharply condemned a Dublin city council decision to fly the Palestinian flag above the capital’s city hall next month in solidarity with the Palestinian people “living under brutal occupation.”

“If the Dublin municipality approves the decision, it will essentially be waving a white flag of surrender to terrorist organizations, hatred and extortion,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told the Ynet news site.

“This is a hostile decision that affects first and foremost the decent citizens of Dublin, and also places a stain of shame on the city,” he added.

A Dublin city council subcommittee passed the motion to fly the Palestinian flag over City Hall for a month starting May 15, following a proposal by John Lyons of the far-left People Before Profit Alliance, in order to mark 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While it will still need to go before the full council on May 8 before the motion is passed, the current composition of the legislative body suggests that it is unlikely to face any hurdles.

The Dublin city council is largely populated with members of the Sinn Fein and other left-wing parties, which have traditionally been anti-Israel.

Referring to Israel as an “apartheid regime,” Lyons commended the decision of the subcommittee. “I think the gesture itself is a symbolic one, the flying of the flag. I think more and more people are of the opinion that the very state of Israel and how it’s behaving in an extreme manner is actually destabilizing its cause and argument,” he said.

Pro-Israel advocates have found a rather difficult environment in Ireland of late.

A lecture by Israel’s Ambassador Ze’ev Boker at Dublin’s Trinity College was canceled last month after some 40 pro-Palestinian students hoisting flags and placards took over the venue.

Pro-Palestinian protesters force the cancellation of a talk by Israel Ambassador Ze'ev Boker in Dublin's Trinity College, February 20, 2017. (Screen capture: Facebook video)
Pro-Palestinian protesters force the cancellation of a talk by Israel Ambassador Ze’ev Boker in Dublin’s Trinity College, February 20, 2017. (Screen capture: Facebook video)

Then, the Foreign Ministry said that it was “horrified by the vicious action of a group of protesters, which denied the ambassador of Israel his right to freedom of expression at Trinity College last night.”

In its statement following the cancellation, Trinity College said it viewed the protesters’ actions “as an unacceptable attack on free speech.”

Earlier in February, Ambassador Boker reportedly informed Jerusalem of Dublin’s possible intentions to soon recognize Palestine as a state. An Israeli official was quoted in a report in the Haaretz Israeli daily at the time as saying an announcement from Dublin on Palestine recognition had already been possible, but Israel’s passage of a controversial law legalizing wildcat settlements made such a decision far more likely.

The Israeli official reportedly said Boker’s cable recommended a request for assistance from the Trump administration in Washington, as well as having Netanyahu call his Irish counterpart, Enda Kenny, in order to discourage Dublin from recognizing Palestinian statehood.

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