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Israeli minister calls for immediate closure of embassy here following Seanad boycott vote

“We don’t turn the other cheek to those who boycott us.”

Protesters set fire to an Israeli flag bearing the picture of Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman during clashes.
Protesters set fire to an Israeli flag bearing the picture of Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman during clashes.
Image: DPA/PA Images

ISRAEL’S DEFENCE MINISTER has called for the closure of his country’s embassy in Ireland after the Seanad voted in favour of banning the importation of goods from Israeli settlements.

Avigdor Lieberman tweeted that Ireland should be punished for its behaviour and said that summoning the Ambassador of Ireland was pointless.

He wrote on Twitter: “There is no point in summoning the Ambassador of Ireland for a ‘reprimand’. Israel needs to immediately close the embassy in Ireland. We don’t turn the other cheek to those who boycott us.”

The calls were echoed by Emmanuel Nahshon, who is the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

“The absurd in the Irish Senate’s initiative is that it will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott,” he said.

“Israel will consider its response in accordance with developments regarding the legislation,” he said.

Saeb Erekat, Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary-general, welcomed the move.

“This courageous step builds on the historic ties between Ireland and Palestine, as well as it shows the way forward for the rest of the European Union,” he said.

The proposed law was introduced by independent senator Frances Black and drew support from all of most political parties, except Fine Gael.

The Irish government said the measure, unprecedented for a European Union member, was unworkable because it would impose a trade barrier within the European Union’s single market and could harm Irish influence in the region.

Senators voted in favour of the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill by 25 votes to 20, with applause rippling through the chamber after an impassioned debate.

It will now undergo further scrutiny in a senate committee, with the government set to continue trying to block it becoming law.

“We may have a long path ahead of us,” said Senator Frances Black, the bill’s author. “But I believe… we’ve made the case clearly.”

Calling Israeli settlements a “war crime”, she compared her proposal to early Irish efforts to oppose apartheid in South Africa, adding Ireland ”will always stand on the side of international law, human rights and justice.”

But Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned it risked “fanning flames” in the Middle East.

“I respect this house and its decision but respectfully disagree,” he said.

With reporting by © – AFP 2018

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