Future of the Israeli embassy

 

Sir, – You report Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman as calling for the closure of his state’s embassy here in retaliation for the Seanad vote on the Occupied Territories Bill (“Israel’s defence minister calls for closure of Dublin embassy”, News, July 13th).

Your own publication carried a story on January 21st last headed “Israel may shut down its embassy in Dublin”, and with the subhead “To reduce costs, Dublin placed on potential closure list of seven, Israeli paper reports”.

It’s perfectly clear from this conjunction of stories that either Mr Lieberman is ignorant of his own government’s existing plans, or he is trying to turn the closure decision, which is a cost-cutting exercise as far as the Israeli foreign ministry is concerned, into a propaganda tool and a stick with which to beat this country. No change there, then.

Let us hope Dáil Éireann will also pass the Bill. Then we might see the welcome sight of the Israeli government carrying out its threat. Good riddance! – Yours, etc,

BASIL MILLER,

Greystones,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – What “dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians” and “diplomatic process in the Middle East” is the Israeli foreign affairs ministry spokesman you quote referring to? If Israel wishes to close its embassy here, then it should close it.– Yours, etc,

BRIAN GRAHAM,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – The supporters of the Israeli boycott legislation who believe they are standing up for Palestinian rights should now turn their attention to the regimes and corporations throughout the world who use what is virtually slave labour to supply the western world with fuel, smartphones, sports shoes, clothing, etc. Are the Palestinians more deserving of our support than the people working in the factories in Bangladesh or the immigrants who work for a pittance in the Gulf states?

It’s time we lost our national fixation with Israel and had a look at what Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other great Middle East democracies are up to.

Perhaps when we have successfully boycotted produce from all these countries we will then live in a new utopia where we heat our houses with turf, travel to work on horseback and use pigeons as a replacement for email, that is until someone starts a campaign for pigeon rights. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK CRADDEN,

Dublin 11.

Sir, – What is the purpose of the Bill passed by the Seanad? If it is to apply pressure on Israel to negotiate, then it could hardly be proposed at a worse time. Saudi Arabia and Iran are focussed on fighting actual and proxy wars across the Middle East. Even if the Israelis promoted dialogue, there would be no one with whom to talk. Instead we threaten business with our 11th largest export market with the kind of gesture-politics we Irish love, as it enables us to sound righteous without actually providing a road map to change anything. – Yours, etc,

KENNETH HARPER,

Burtonport,

Co Donegal.

Sir, – Senator Frances Black argues that the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 she drafted is “applicable to occupations anywhere in the world”, not necessarily just Israel’s settlements past its 1967 borders (“Ireland must act against Israel’s war crimes”, Opinion & Analysis, July 11th).

The Bill makes it an offence for Irish citizens and companies operating in Ireland to either import or sale goods, provide services or extract resources from occupied territories. Those found guilty of such offences could be fined up to €250,000 or imprisoned for up to five years or both.

Israel, however, is not mentioned once in the Bill, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade can list any number of territories deemed occupied. This could mean that other military occupied territories, such as Nagorno-Karabakh (internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory but occupied by Armenian forces), Abkhazia and South Ossetia (internationally recognised as Georgian territory but occupied by Russian forces) and Turkey’s occupation of northern Syria since 2016 could run foul of this Bill.

If the Minister, however, chooses not to declare such occupied territories as part of the list pertaining to the Bill, but includes only Israel’s settlements, Ireland would be easily dismissed as being selective in its indignation against Israeli policies but not those of other nations. – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN OLIVER

MURRAY,

Ballsbridge,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – I agree with the Israeli defence minister– the Israeli embassy in Dublin should be closed. I’d have preferred if the call had come from Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. – Yours, etc,

HARRY McCAULEY,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.