Israeli Defence Minister calls for 'immediate' closure of Dublin embassy

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman. Photo: Avigdor Liberman Facebook page.

Marita Moloney

The Israeli Defence Minister has called for the "immediate" closure of its Dublin embassy days after a bill was passed by the Seanad banning the importation of goods originating from Israeli settlements in Palestine.

The country's foreign ministry met with Irish ambassador to Israel Alison Kelly yesterday to discuss the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 and to protest the legislation's advancement.

This bill, introduced by Independent Senator Frances Black, would prohibit trade between Ireland and the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The bill passed on Wednesday by 25 votes to 20 with Independent senators and those in Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour in favour of it. It was opposed by government.

Should the bill be passed into law, it would make Ireland the first EU nation to enforce a boycott.

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticised the Seanad vote, saying it "hurts the chances of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians" which "will have a negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East."

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the "immediate" closure of Israel's embassy in Dublin 4, saying "there was no point" in summoning and reprimanding Ms Kelly.

Writing on his Twitter page, Mr Lieberman said: "We won’t turn the other cheek to a country which boycotts us."

The Irish ambassador to Israel was previously summoned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January to discuss the bill, with Mr Netanyahu "strongly condemning" the proposed legislation.

“The initiative gives backing to those who seek to boycott Israel and completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice,” a statement from his office said.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney had opposed the bill, warning that it could adversely affect trade and would be difficult to implement due to Ireland's international trade laws being governed by EU rules.

He said this week that the legislation would be seen as showing solidarity with Palestinians, but that relationships forged to help citizens would be damaged in the process.

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