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'We are yearning for the same thing... which is a peaceful future,' says Dublin's top diplomat

Rivlin meets with Irish FM who was rebuked by Netanyahu

Simon Coveney tells president that Ireland’s interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is due to a similarly violent past

President Reuven Rivlin (R) and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney during a working meeting at the president's residence in Jerusalem on July 12, 2017. (Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin (R) and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney during a working meeting at the president's residence in Jerusalem on July 12, 2017. (Mark Neiman/GPO)

A day after being rebuked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his country’s traditional support for the Palestinians, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney held a working meeting with President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday in Jerusalem.

Rivlin congratulated the foreign minister on the formation of Ireland’s new government and reiterated an existing invitation for Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to visit Israel.

“I think the relationship between Israel and Ireland is very important, in spite of differences of opinion which we have from time to time,” Rivlin told Dublin’s top diplomat.

He also stressed Israel’s opposition to “the idea of boycotts” and pointed out that problems faced by countries in the Middle East are ones that affect all of Europe — an apparent reference to terrorism and extremism.

For his part, Coveney thanked Rivlin for the welcome and said that he would encourage his prime minister to visit Israel.

“I know there is an impression here that Ireland takes a different position to Israel. Can I say that in essence though, we are yearning for the same thing… which is a peaceful future,” the foreign minister said.

Coveney added that Ireland’s particular interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stems from Dublin’s similarly tumultuous history. “Despite what people may sometimes feel about Ireland, we do care about this region, and want to be helpful,” he emphasized.

During his own meeting with Coveney on Tuesday, 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.” This according to a readout of the sit-down from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Tuesday’s discussion focused mostly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 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 also meeting with “representatives of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs funded by Irish Aid,” according to his office.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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