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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 19 September, 2018
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Here's Charlie Flanagan's explanation of why Ireland won't be throwing out Israel's ambassador

“If we expelled every ambassador from Dublin for alleged human rights abuses there would be very few CD-plated registered cars around our city.”

Israeli flag.
Israeli flag.
Image: Ron Almog/Wikimedia Commons

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN Affairs Charlie Flanagan faced down a number of calls to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland in the course of this afternoon’s Seanad debate on the crisis in Gaza. 

There have been repeated calls for the government to ask ambassador Boaz Modai to leave the country in recent weeks, in light of the worsening situation in the region.

Sinn Féin’s Kathryn Reilly and Independent David Norris were amongst the politicians to call for Modai to be expelled today.

Reilly asked “how many more dead children” it would take before the Government sent a strong message to Israel, while Norris said the Dublin-based diplomat continually had “his fingers in his ears”.

Flanagan, who has been criticised from the Labour backbenches in recent weeks for his stance on the crisis, rejected the suggestion outright.

‘Frequent calls’

Speaking at the end of the four-and-a-half-hour debate, after listening to each member who spoke, he said…

As you know we face very frequent calls here to expel the Israeli ambassador – although, you know, we never have a proposal about any other representative in town or within the diplomatic corps .

“Our foreign policy has always been based, above all, on the resolution of any conflict via dialogue.

We don’t therefore respond to crises by expelling the interlocutor… Except in most exceptional circumstances.

Charlie Flanagan

“Ambassadors exist, as we know, to allow clear channels of communication between governments and are more necessary in bad times than in good.

“We have continually conveyed our views to the Israeli Government through the ambassador here  — or, as was mentioned earlier in relation to my earlier contribution — Ambassador [Eamon] McKee in Tel Aviv.

And – really, senators – I don’t intend to deprive us of this vital channel, particularly, particularly, in a time of crisis. Because the corollary of course would be the expulsion of our ambassador in Israel and the crippling of our own embassy in Tel Aviv.

Flanagan said Ambassador McKee had a fundamental role to play in helping reach a resolution, adding that the diplomat had been instrumental in organising the evacuation of Irish citizens and their families from Gaza.

If we expelled every ambassador from Dublin for alleged human rights abuses there would be very few CD plated registered cars around our city.

“I’m not sure, senators, if we want to take it upon ourselves to be the moral and ethical guardians of this world.”

Read our full report on this afternoon’s Gaza debate here >

Explainer: What is happening in Gaza?

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