Israel criticises Ireland over Gaza

THE official reaction in Ireland to the Israeli offensive in Gaza was “insensitive and unhelpful”, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

The ministry’s spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said many Israelis were offended by some of the official Irish reactions earlier this year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin had condemned Israel, at one stage saying its actions would only likely “escalate the situation and make the search for an effective ceasefire in Gaza even more difficult”.

However, Mr Palmor said: “It was hasty, it was way too severe, it did not take into account many key elements.

“Israelis in general felt that it was insensitive and unhelpful. Many Israelis were really offended by some of the official Irish reactions and it’s a pity. ”

Hopes of Israel reviving peace talks with the Palestinians have been dealt a further blow after a key Jewish minister dismissed the proposed two-state solution for the region as unworkable for many years to come.

A close aid to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his leader’s recent comments that there could be no freezing of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli cabinet minister Benny Begin told the Irish Examiner that EU and US hopes for a two-state solution were a long way off.

“With the best of intentions . . . this is not going to happen for many years.”

Most Israelis wanted a Palestinian state with limited military and diplomatic powers, he added, but this would not be acceptable to the other side.

“The prospects from this point of view are not that great . . . however, the situation is difficult, it will not go away for a long time.”

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the hawkish member of the ruling Likud party, also said he did not see the region’s US envoy, George Mitchell addressing gaps between the different Palestinian factions.

George Mitchell’s meeting with Mr Netanyahu in Paris was called off last week in an apparent sign of growing friction with the US over its calls for a halt to construction in Jewish settlements.

NGO observers and Arab supporters maintain there are a quarter of a million settlers living in East Jerusalem and the same amount again inside the West Bank. Many come from outside Israel with promises of good jobs, cheap homes and security.

Peace Now, an Israel group, say some settler villages have grown five times in size because of highways running alongside the West Bank Wall that only Jews can use.

Arab representative and Israeli parliament member Ahmed Tibi said the infrastructure for Palestinians was 25 years behind that of Israelis in some areas.

“They are counting us day by day, dealing with our national growth as if we are a threat,” said the former adviser to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Families in the West Bank face daily threats of their homes being demolished.

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