Concern over Israeli diplomat's remarks


SEANAD:THERE WOULD be cause for concern over the activities of the Israeli embassy in this country if there was substance to reports of suggestions by the deputy ambssador about how Israeli activists sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians should be treated, David Norris (Ind) said. If true, her “communiqué” was dynamite.

Seanad leader Maurice Cummins said that if Mr Norris provided him with backing information, he would take the matter up with the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore.

Mr Norris said it had been reported in Israel that Nurit Tinari Modai had advocated actions against activists supporting Palestinian human rights. As he had worked with such groups, it was vital, he believed, that clarification be provided on whether she had made proposals, such as implying that activists were working for Mossad, which would expose them to considerable danger.

Paul Bradford (FG) said he appreciated the genuine concerns that Mr Norris had about human rights in the Middle East, but he was not convinced the diplomat had engaged in such activity.

Mr Norris had spoken of the homophobic issue being used in an alleged planned scheme of discreditation. “I think it’s fair to say that the only country in the Middle East where a gay person can feel safe, secure wanted and welcome, is the state of Israel.” Mr Norris replied: “That is not entirely true.”

Mr Bradford wondered why there was silence now over Syria from Palestinian sympathisers who had been “so busy with their flotilla” in the recent past.

Colm Burke (FG) said he did not necessarily agree with his party colleague, having visited Gaza weeks after Israeli forces had used white phosphorus and cluster munitions in an operation which had killed more than 340 children.

It was time that there was a reasoned debate on how a solution could be found to the conflict.