Israel's ambassador to Ireland has accused some Irish politicians of spewing "hate" towards the Jewish state, in a heated row over the latest flare-up of violence in the Middle East.
During emotional exchanges at an Oireachtas committee, Ophir Kariv said it was "very surprising and very disappointing" that "totally destructive" attacks on Israel were coming out of Ireland, which has "painful" experience of complex conflict.
The latest violence in Gaza was also raised in the Dáil where Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the actions of the Israeli government were indefensible.
“Annexation, expulsion, plantation and the killing of civilians, deliberately or in terms of collateral damage, are not the behaviours of a democratic state in the 21st century and it is simply unacceptable that a democratic state or any state should behave in this way.”
He added: "I abhor Hamas and what it has done in terror and in the violation of human rights of women and LGBTQ+ groups in particular".
Mr Varadkar was responding to Solidarity TD Mick Barry who called for Mr Kariv to be expelled because he was "the representative of a state that is pursuing a policy of systemic racism".
Mr Kariv told the Oireachtas committee earlier that Israel was willing to go “all the way” to reach a “final agreement” to end its conflict with Palestinians, he said.
Defend its citizens
But the senior diplomat warned the country will continue to defend its citizens during the current surge in bloodshed between Israel and neighbouring Gaza-strip militants.
Mr Kariv said a peaceful solution is vital for both sides, but was “very difficult”, as he blamed Palestinians for “avoiding coming back to the negotiating table”.
“There is no other choice but hope for a solution between Israel and Palestinians.
“Israel will continue to do its utmost together, at the same time – maybe to the disappointment of some members [of the committee] – to preserve its interests, it will continue to defend its citizens, and it is important to emphasise . . . we are working within international law and according to international law.”
Sinn Féin TD John Brady said it was "deeply depressing" that 69 people – including 17 children – had been "butchered" in Gaza during what he described as an act of "collective punishment" by the Israelis on Palestinians.
“How is butchering 69 people in indiscriminate bombings in Gaza . . . how is that self-defence?” he asked the committee, holding aloft pictures of two of the children killed in the recent violence.
Dún Laoghaire TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the Israeli state was a "colonialist" and "apartheid" enterprise that achieves its aims through the "ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people".
“You use violence, you use a twisted version of the law as the means to achieve your aims,” he told Mr Kariv.
Elsewhere, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the EU’s failure to call out sufficiently the illegal actions by Israel against Palestinians had accelerated those actions this year.
Speaking to Dublin foreign policy think tank, the Institute of International and European Affairs, Mr Coveney said the EU had “fallen short” and failed to project its influence in agreeing a common position that calls out illegal activity by the Israelis against Palestinians.
Israeli settlements and their expansion in Israeli-occupied territories and the forced evictions of Palestinians were “illegal” and the Irish Government had “got to call that out,” he said.