Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has been urged by a local authority to summon the Israeli ambassador to Iveagh House to convey the outrage of the Irish people at the response of the Israeli defence forces to events in the Gaza Strip.
Members of Cork County Council yesterday voted to call on Mr Flanagan to "officially summon the Israeli ambassador to the Department of Foreign Affairs to express the outrage of the people of Ireland at the disproportionate response by Israel to the people of Gaza".
The call came after a lengthy debate when councillors of all parties and Independents strongly condemned Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip but stopped short of supporting a Sinn Féin motion calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.
Proposing the Sinn Féin motion, Cllr Des O’Grady said that when he first submitted his motion last week, 576 people had died, but since then, “the murderous and ruthless attack by the Israeli military machine has increased the Palestinian death toll to over 1,000”.
"All deaths in this conflict are to be regretted and each life lost is as important at the next but we must not treat the terror and suffering inflicted on the people of Israel by Hamas as equal to the disproportionate terror and suffering inflicted by Israel on Palestinian people in Gaza."
Mr O'Grady also condemned Israel's blockade of Gaza since 2007 which has led to a siege, which is now supported by Egypt, of Gaza where 1.65 million people are crammed into a strip of land just 25 miles long and seven miles wide.
Ireland's decision to abstain last week on a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning all violence against civilians in the region was "a shameful act of political cowardice" by the Government, said Mr O'Grady.
"The Irish Government should move immediately to expel the Israeli ambassador, sending a clear message of condemnation from the Irish people to the Israeli government," said Mr O'Grady, adding "the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children warranted this step".
councillor Mary Rose Desmond agreed with Mr O’Grady in terms of condemning the actions by the Israeli defence forces and Ireland’s failure to support the UN resolution but she said expelling the ambassador would do little to help the Palestinian people.
Dialogue was needed to find a solution, she said as she proposed that instead of expelling the Israeli ambassador, Mr Flanagan should summon him to Iveagh House to convey in person the outrage of the Irish people rather than simply ringing him to do so.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael members of the council along with several Independents all condemned the actions of the defence forces but counselled against expelling the Israeli ambassador which they argued would be counter productive.
Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Alan Coleman of Fianna Fáil also called on the EU to show its independence on the issue by adopting a more balanced approach which would distinguish it from the US which is strongly supportive of Israel.
He called on Mr O’Grady to amend his motion to allow for the summoning to Iveagh House rather the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador but Mr O’Grady refused, saying he believes the situation was so serious in Gaza that it merited the expulsion of the ambassador.
Councillors then voted on Ms Desmond’s amendment calling for the summoning of the Israeli ambassador and it was passed by 28 votes to 11 with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and most Independents voting in favour and Sinn Féin and one Independent voting against.