Israel slams Ireland over Dublin mayor’s Ramallah trip

Foreign Ministry summons Irish envoy after capital’s city council endorses boycott and mayor seems to endorse Palestinian mufti who met Hitler

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

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

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday rebuked the Irish ambassador to Israel, days after the Dublin City Council passed two anti-Israel resolutions and the city’s mayor attended a conference in Ramallah that appeared to praise the Palestinian mufti Amin al-Husseini, who in 1941 met with Adolf Hitler.

The ministry said its deputy director-general for European Affairs, Rodica Radian Gordon, expressed to Ambassador Alison Kelly her “astonishment and deep disappointment” over the fact that Dublin’s Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha had chosen to participate in a “blatantly anti-Israel event.”

“This is particularly disturbing in light of the event’s timing, in the week in which Israel observes Holocaust Remembrance Day,” the ministry said in a statement. “The government of Israel expects a public and official Irish response to the conduct of the city council of Ireland’s capital in general, and of its head in specific, which are conducting a campaign of discrimination and hatred against the State of Israel.”

The Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv, in a tweet, said that Ambassador Kelly explained her government’s positions on the matters raised by the Foreign Ministry, including Ireland’s opposition to the anti-Israel boycott movement.

“She nevertheless expressed surprise that the Lord Mayor of Dublin had been the one international conference participant singled out by the Israeli authorities, given that he has worked well with the Israeli embassy in Dublin in his current role, including hosting Ireland’s national Holocaust commemoration this year in his official residence.”

On Wednesday, COGAT, the office of the Israeli army’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, posted a photo of Mac Donncha at the Ramallah conference sitting under a huge banner of the Palestinian mufti.

“We wonder whether or not the honorable Mícheál Mac Donncha intentionally chose this event and timing,” the post read. “Maybe the [Holocaust] Remembrance Day siren tomorrow morning will remind him that Haj Amin al Husseini met with Adolf Hitler, the murderer of millions. Maybe then he will start thinking how to explain this to the Jewish residents of the city he is in charge of.”

The post went on: “Is this an unfortunate act of innocence on Mr. Mac Donncha’s part? Maybe not. The fact remains that he has found himself taking part in a conference glorifying a war criminal.”

Earlier this week, Dublin’s city council passed two resolutions endorsing the anti-Israel boycott movement and calling on the national government to expel the Israeli ambassador.

As a result of those votes, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Tuesday that he would bar Mac Donncha from entering Israel on his way to to a conference on the status of Jerusalem in Ramallah, at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority.

However, Mac Donncha entered the country via Ben Gurion Airport without any problem, apparently because Israeli border authorities misspelled his name.

On Wednesday, Deri said he had ordered an inquiry into what went wrong — “so that lessons can be learned.” He also said the mayor would be given a letter on leaving Israel barring him from returning.

One of the two resolutions passed by the Dublin City Councillors read: “Since its violent establishment in 1948 through the ethnic cleansing of more than half of the indigenous people of Palestine, the state of Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights and has refused to comply with international law.”

The resolution, proposed by leftist Councillor John Lyons, goes on to level various accusations against Israel before stating that “this City Council fully supports and endorses the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement for freedom, equality, and justice.”

Mícheál Mac Donncha (Sinn Féin, via Flickr/Wikipedia)

The text further states that Dublin will cut all business ties with Hewlett-Packard, arguing that the technology giant ”provides and operates much of the technology infrastructure that Israel uses to maintain its system of apartheid and settler colonialism over the Palestinian people.”

The other resolution, proposed by Mac Donncha, called on the national government to expel Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, Ze’ev Boker.

The spokesperson of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, denounced the resolution “as utter nonsense” that is “worthy of dark dictatorships.”

“This is lowbrow anti-Semitism, not what you’d expect of the capital of an EU member state,” he fumed on Twitter.

Some members of Dublin’s city council were critical of the motions as well.

“We have this focus on saving the world. We are elected to save Dublin,” said Labour’s Mary Freehill.

Anne Feeney, from the center-right Fine Gael party, dismissed the effort to kick out Israel’s ambassador as “nonsense.”

In Ramallah this week, Mac Donncha said he wanted to “acknowledge that East Jerusalem is the designated capital of Palestine under the two-state solution, recognized by the international community, but forcibly prevented from being implemented by successive Israeli governments.”

He also traveled to the region to “express solidarity with the people of Palestine who are suffering violence from Israeli forces, as witnessed in Gaza most recently with the shooting down of protesters,” he told reporters.

Explaining his decision to bar Mac Donncha from entering Israel, Deri cited the mayor’s longstanding pro-Palestinian activism. “He acted in all possible ways against Israel,” he said, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.

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