Israel tries to bar Dublin mayor, but fails because it spells his name wrong

Immigration officers were told to prevent Mícheál Mac Donncha from entering Israel en route to Ramallah after Irish capital passed two anti-Israel resolutions; too late, he tweets

Illustrative: People stand in line to go through passport control at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel, September 21, 2008. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative: People stand in line to go through passport control at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel, September 21, 2008. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Israel tried but failed to bar Dublin’s mayor from entering the country after his city council passed two anti-Israel resolutions, apparently botching the effort by spelling his name wrong.

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

As a result of those votes, Interior Minister Arye Deri said Tuesday that he would bar the city’s first Lord Mayor, Mícheál Mac Donncha, from entering Israel. Mac Donncha, a member of the leftists Sinn Féin party, was planning to attend a conference on the status of Jerusalem in Ramallah, at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority.

But just minutes after Deri made his threat, Donncha tweeted that he was actually already in Ramallah, telling the Haaretz daily that he had come in untroubled via Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

Haaretz quoted an Interior Ministry spokesperson as saying that border control officials had failed to stop him, because the order had apparently spelled his name wrong.

Deri said Wednesday 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.”

Another 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.”

Mac Donncha was heading to Ramallah this week, where he 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 Aharonoth.

In late January, the Irish Senate debated but eventually postponed voting on a bill that would have criminalized the import and sale of settlements goods.

The government opposed the passing of the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018, but vowed to revisit and possibly support it before the parliament’s summer break, in the event there is no significant progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

It is currently unclear if and when the bill will again be brought to a vote.

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