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Israel's ambassador to Ireland Dana Erlich Alamy Stock Photo
diplomatic row

Simon Harris calls claim by Dana Erlich about investment in the Irish IT sector 'a distraction'

Ireland, alongside Spain and Norway, are due to officially recognise Palestinian statehood tomorrow.

ISRAEL’S AMBASSADOR TO Ireland has warned that tech companies and investors could be discouraged from investing in the country due to the Government’s decision to formally recognise the State of Palestine, a comment Taoiseach Simon Harris has labelled “a distraction”. 

Speaking in Jerusalem today, ambassador Dana Erlich, who was recalled to Israel as soon as the announcement regarding recognition of Palestine was made last week, said that the move would harm bilateral ties with Ireland. 

Ireland, alongside Spain and Norway, are due to officially recognise Palestinian statehood tomorrow, a decision that saw envoys from all three countries summoned for reprimand by the Israeli government.

The Israeli ambassadors to Norway and Spain were also recalled as Israeli officials said recognition was “a reward for terrorism”. 

In an interview with Reuters, Erlich made particular reference to the Irish IT services sector. Israel is a major player in IT, with many of its companies’ products designed in close partnership with the state itself. 

She said that all areas of the Irish-Israeli relationship were under review.

“Ireland is not neutral or an honest broker in this case, because they are very supportive of the Palestinians. But what we are saying (is): This is not the time for such announcement on recognition,” Erlich said. 

Erlich added that there was support for Israel “behind the scenes” in Ireland but that public opinion was largely hostile towards it. 

“We are getting more and more phone calls and conversations of concerned people – if it’s Israelis who invest in Ireland and are concerned about their investment, if it’s Israelis who have relocated to Ireland into different tech companies and either are requesting to be relocated somewhere else or asking to return to Israel,” Erlich said.

“I think it sends the wrong message about the location and the centrality of Ireland as a tech hub when there are more and more people who are concerned about moving to Ireland. I don’t think that this is the message that Ireland wants to send to the world … And this is not what we want to see.”

Speaking to reporters today, the Taoiseach said the comments from Erlich were “a distraction, quite frankly”, before insisting that Ireland would continue to comply with diplomatic norms and treat ambassadors with respect. 

He made reference to the Israeli government filming ambassadors from Ireland, Norway and Spain viewing “horrific” footage of hostages in Hamas captivity, a stunt he again described as “parading” them before TV cameras. 

Turning to the events witnessed in Rafah overnight, where at least 45 people were killed in a refugee camp by Israeli airstrikes, Harris said: 

“I think rather than anybody seeking to distract, I think what should concern the entire world today are the barbaric, horrific scenes that we saw last night in Rafah, where a displaced persons centre was attacked.

“Imagine, this place where parents bring their children for safety and security, a place that is meant to be some degree of refuge and safety, at his most horrific time, was attacked, was bombed and 45 people are dead.”

Need more information on what is happening in Israel and Palestine? Check out our new FactCheck Knowledge Bank for essential reads and guides to navigating the news online.

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