Israeli ambassador’s expulsion an option, say TDs seeking Dáil debate

Government TDs have said the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland should be considered as pressure mounts for an emergency Dáil debate on the Gaza crisis.

A number of Labour politicians, including a former minister, said the expulsion of ambassador Boaz Modai was an option given the rising number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israel in the coastal strip.

A quarter of all TDs last night also signalled their support to recall the Dáil for an emergency debate on the Gaza crisis.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny faced pressure to make the move after Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams wrote to him with the request. The demand was backed by Independents, Fianna Fáil, and a Labour TD.

Wicklow’s Anne Ferris said she had “no problem” with the Dáil being recalled. “I would welcome debate and hear all sides, all views; then a decision could be taken by all members whether the Israeli ambassador should be asked to leave,” she said.

Fellow Labour TD Joe Costello, the former junior foreign affairs ministerforeign affairs minister, said he did “not take seriously” Sinn Féin’s demand and that it was only “publicity”. The Dublin North TD, who has visited Gaza several times, said that asking Mr Modai to leave was “a last resort”. However, he added: “This is not done lightlylikely and only if all avenues have been exhausted. I’m in two minds on the matter. This can’t be allowed to continue indefinitely.If there is not a ceasefire shortly, the international community has to state that [concern] at every level.”

Ivana Bacik, Labour’s leader in the Seanad, said the ambassador’s expulsion from Ireland was an option.

Several Labour TDs and others from Labour, including Cork South West’s Michael McCarthy and Galway West’s Derek Nolan, have expressed disappointment that Ireland abstained from a UN Human Rights Council vote this week on a motion for an inquiry into the crisis. Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday said Ireland and other EU states had problems with the text of the motion and wanted it to include “all violent acts” of all sides.

Mr Flanagan later spoke with Mr Modai, expressing Ireland’s “grave concerns” at the escalation of violence after a UN-run school was hit. Mr Modai has said Israel is engaged in ground operations to make it “impossible for Hamas to terrorise the people of Israel in the future”.

Mr Kenny’s spokesman did not say if he would accede to the request.

Rallies and vigils are planned nationwide today. Events organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be held in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Ennis, and Waterford.

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