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Irish diplomats in Israel face isolation and restrictions over Ireland's recognition of Palestine

Those in government circles say such measures had been expected.

IN RESPONSE TO Ireland recognising the State of Palestine, Irish diplomats in Israel will be facing a number of restrictions, it is understood. 

Israeli public broadcaster Kann reported yesterday evening that the Israeli government will no longer facilitate travel into either Gaza or the West Bank by diplomats from countries, such as Ireland, which ‘unilaterally’ recognise the State of Palestine.

There will also be an “isolation” of the diplomats from briefings and requests from Ireland. 

Ireland’s Ambassador in Israel Sonya McGuinness was yesterday summoned by the Israeli State for a démarche – essentially a robust telling off by the Tel Aviv government. 

Today, Israel’s foreign minister has tweeted out another bizarre video, tagging Taoiseach Simon Harris and stating “Hamas thanks you for your service”.

Bobby McDonagh, a former Irish Ambassador to the EU, UK and Italy, has said the the Israeli Foreign Minister has threatened “severe consequences”, stating that he believes Israel is “not behaving rationally at the moment”.

Irish officials had expected such consequences, and others, to be forthcoming, with sources stating that the same response was given to Sweden when it gave Palestinian Statehood recognition in 2014.

At the time, The Times of Israel reported that officials from Stockholm were told they were unwelcome in Israel by the country’s deputy foreign minister while visits by the Swedish foreign minister in Israel were not permitted. 

Other measures included visiting officials being told that they would have to arrange their own security detail, as Israel refused to provide security. 

Diplomatic row

Speaking to the media yesterday, Taoiseach Simon Harris insisted that he does not want diplomatic relations with Israel to be severed as a result of Ireland recognising the State of Palestine.

His comments came amid reports of a diplomatic row between Harris and Israeli president Isaac Herzog.

The decision to recognise the State of Palestine follows months of delicate high-level negotiations which ramped up at the start of this year, with Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and his officials repeatedly travelling to the Middle East to see what the implications of the decision could potentially be. 

Critically, diplomatic sources have said, Ireland’s move recognises the State but not a specific government. Those sources are keen to stress that this is not about legitimising  Hamas, which Ireland and the broader EU have declared a terrorist organisation.

Sources have said that the main thinking behind the decision by Irish diplomats and policy leaders is to “find a political pathway” to peace.  

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