Israeli authorities say they are examining ways to expel Dublin's Lord Mayor Mícheál MacDonncha and will issue him a letter after he leaves Israel stating that he will not be permitted to visit again.
The Mayor is currently in the West Bank city of Ramallah after border control officials at Ben-Gurion airport failed to prevent his entry last night due to the misspelling of his name on the warrant issued preventing him from entering the country.
The Sinn Féin councillor travelled to Ramallah on the invitation of the Palestinian Authority, to attend a conference held on the status of the city of Jerusalem.
A source in the population and immigration authority said the Dublin mayor entered Israel due to a technological glitch.
“The details aren’t received with the man’s picture,” the source explained.
“The ministry of strategic affairs misspelled the man’s name in the document it gave the border control, and that’s how it was entered into the system. If someone is barred from entering, the system should produce a warning as soon as the name is entered, but when someone arrives with a passport bearing a different name, there’s no way of knowing about the ban.”
On Wednesday, Israeli ministries were blaming each other for the bureaucratic bungling that allowed the Mayor to pass through the airport undetected. The interior ministry claims it was provided with the wrong name, but the strategic affairs ministry insists Mr MacDonncha’s name was spelled correctly.
Interior minister Arieh Deri said an investigation was underway.
“The probe is necessary in order to prevent such mishaps in the future and to glean lessons from what happened,” he said.
“After the Lord Mayor of Dublin departs from the country, and in light of his activity against Israel, I’ve instructed that a letter be delivered to him which would forbid future entry into Israeli territory.”
Mr Deri decided to bar the Mayor, who was invited to a conference in Ramallah as a guest of the Palestinian Authority, due to his active promotion of a boycott against Israel.
In a statement to the media, Mr Deri said the Mayor led the Dublin City Council decision on April 9th calling on the Government to expel Israel's ambassador to Ireland.
Last August, Israel introduced a new policy to bar boycott activists from entering Israel. Officials in the strategic affairs ministry recommended Mr MacDonncha be denied entry into Israel due to his "consistent and clear activity to advance boycotts against Israel", and his activity in one of the most radical boycott groups, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan said “the policy I set is clear: He who works consistently to boycott Israel will not enter here”. Israel’s foreign ministry also issued a statement condemning the Dublin council decision calling for the Government to expel the Israeli ambassador.
“The city of Dublin adopted a shameful and ridiculous resolution, in the hateful spirit of Hamas and similar organisations,” the statement said.
“It is utterly unacceptable that the capital city of a country which is a member of the European Union adopts resolution that is entirely a boycott, hateful and racist. We expect a scathing Irish condemnation of this despicable resolution.”
Speaking on Wednesday morning on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr MacDonncha said he brought a message of support from Dublin for the need for inclusivity, a negotiated settlement and dialogue.
Rejecting criticism that he should be focusing on the housing crisis in Dublin rather than travelling to Palestine, Mr MacDonncha said the visit was for only three days and that Ardmhéara had traditionally made occasional international visits.
Mr MacDonncha said he had accepted the invitation because Dublin City Council supports the people of Palestine and was critical of Israel.
Recent events in Gaza with the shooting of protesters by Israeli soldiers were reminiscent of Bloody Sunday in Derry, but on a larger scale, he said.
The move by the Israeli government to declare Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel was a backward step in the peace process, he added.
Last year the United States also recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in a move that sparked protests among Palestinians. "It's very difficult to see hope of a peace deal," Mr Mac Donncha said.