Irish envoy summoned over Dublin Mayor visit to ‘anti-Israel’ event

Israel expresses shock at Sinn Féin’s Mícheál Mac Donncha attending Ramallah summit

 Lord Mayor of Dublin, Sinn Féin’s Mícheál Mac Donncha: Israel expects a “public and formal” response from Ireland to his conduct. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Sinn Féin’s Mícheál Mac Donncha: Israel expects a “public and formal” response from Ireland to his conduct. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Israel’s foreign ministry summoned Irish ambassador Alison Kelly to protest the participation of Dublin’s mayor Mícheál MacDonncha in a conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, despite a ban on his entering the country.

The foreign ministry said the conference in Ramallah was “anti-Israel,” and noted two recent decisions by the Dublin city council that were “hostile to Israel,” - a decision to formally support a boycott of Israel and a call on the government to expel Israel’s ambassador to Ireland.

Israel claims the Ramallah conference featured banners of the grand mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, who allied himself with the Nazis and backed the extermination of the Jews.

“The government of Israel expects a public and official Irish response to the behaviour of its capital’s city council, and of its mayor, who are leading a campaign of discrimination and incitement against Israel,” the ministry said in a statement.

An Israeli official told The Irish Times the message had been sent and “the ball is now in Ireland’s court.”

At the meeting at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem on Wednesday, which came as Israel observed Holocaust Remembrance Day, ambassador Kelly reiterated the Irish government’s firm opposition to a policy of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) in relation to Israel. At the same time she expressed surprise that the Dublin Mayor was the only international participant at the Ramallah conference singled out by Israel, given that “he has worked well with the Israeli embassy in Dublin in his current role, including hosting Ireland’s national Holocaust commemoration this year in his official residence.”

An Israeli foreign ministry official expressed surprise at the mayor’s decision to attend during the week in which Israel marks Holocaust Memorial Day.

Israel says when the Mayor leaves he will be told that he will not be allowed to visit Israel in the future.

Israel had intended to turn him back from Ben-Gurion International airport when he arrived on Tuesday night on a flight from Germany, but an embarrassing bureaucratic error allowed him to enter under the noses of the Israeli authorities and travel on to Ramallah undetected. The ministry of strategic affairs misspelled Mr MacDonncha’s name and therefore it failed to match the name appearing on his passport, resulting in Israeli border control officials allowing him to pass unhindered.

In January, Israel summoned ambassador Kelly for clarification and to express dissatisfaction over a Bill in the Irish parliament calling for a boycott of Israeli settlements. She explained that the government opposed the legislation, which was subsequently postponed.