Israel summons Ambassador over Palestinian envoy upgrade

 

THE IRISH Ambassador to Israel, Breifne O’Reilly, has been summoned to the foreign ministry in Jerusalem today to hear Israeli displeasure over Dublin’s move to upgrade the status of the Palestinian delegation to Ireland to a mission.

Israel’s ambassador to Dublin, Boaz Modai, will also visit the Department of Foreign Affairs today to express the Israeli view that the diplomatic upgrade announced yesterday will only hinder Middle East peace efforts.

An Israeli foreign ministry official told The Irish Timesthat Jerusalem was disappointed, but not surprised by the move.

“For many years Ireland has been the most anti-Israel member state of the European Union. Foreign minister Martin was probably eager to push this through given the likelihood that there will soon be a change of government in Ireland.”

Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said the international community could contribute more to the peace process by urging the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations. “Unfortunately, while these unilateral declarations are largely meaningless on the ground and destructive for negotiations they do contribute to the bubble of expectation that is growing amongst the Palestinian leadership,” he said.

“However, we all know that bubbles eventually burst and it is negligent to contribute to this unsustainable policy. Every free gift the Palestinians receive from the international community contributes to their recalcitrance and maximalist strategy. We can see an obvious connection to the recent hardening of the Palestinian position.”

Although Ireland was not the first EU state to upgrade a Palestinian delegation to a mission, Jerusalem fears that other European states may follow suit.

The Irish move was only the latest in a series of diplomatic setbacks for Israel.

Peru this week recognised an independent Palestinian state, joining seven other Latin American states that did likewise over recent weeks.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said last week his country continued to support the Palestinians’ “inalienable right” to establish an independent state.

Israeli officials have expressed concern that European states will follow the Latin American precedent, and the Irish upgrade of the Palestinian delegation may be a step in that direction.

In a statement, the Government said it had made the decision in line with similar decisions on upgrading already announced by a number of EU states including France, Spain and Portugal.

It said the move had been made “in recognition of Ireland’s long-standing support for Palestinian statehood and the progress being made by the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of President Abbas and prime minister Fayyad, in building up the institutions of a Palestinian State.”

It stressed, however, that the decision did not involve any recognition of a Palestinian state or prejudge any such decision on recognition which the Government might take.