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Israel criticises Harris for not mentioning Gaza hostages

Israel’s foreign ministry has denounced Taoiseach Simon Harris for not mentioning the hostages held by militants in Gaza during a speech to the Dáil on Tuesday.

Israel is also furious with Ireland over its intention to recognise a Palestinian state and to intervene in the genocide case brought by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

Mr Harris “forgot” to “mention the 133 Israeli hostages who have been rotting in Hamas tunnels for the past six months,” Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said Ireland was also “planning to award additional prizes to terrorism” by backing South Africa, which it called “the legal arm of the Hamas terrorist organisation, and the possible recognition of a Palestinian state in the future”.

“After the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust… there are those in Ireland who persist on being on the wrong side of history,” the statement added.

Mr Harris told the Dáil that “innocent children, women and men are being starved and slaughtered” in Gaza.

“We have not been silent on the unforgiveable terrorist actions of Hamas on October 7, nor can we be silent on the disproportionate reaction of the Israeli government,” he said.

In a 27 March statement declaring that it would intervene at the International Court of Justice, the Department of Foreign Affairs cited “taking of hostages” as among violations of international humanitarian law that have occurred in Israel and Gaza since 7 October.

The Taoiseach is expected to raise the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and repeat Ireland’s call for an immediate ceasefire when he meets senior EU leaders in Brussels and Warsaw.

Mr Harris is meeting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola in Brussels today.

He will also travel to Warsaw, where he will meet European Council President Charles Michel.

While in Poland, the Taoiseach will attend a summit hosted by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, alongside the Prime Ministers of Spain, Finland, Estonia, Greece and Luxembourg.

Mr Harris will use the opportunity, ahead of next week’s EU Council summit, to raise the humanitarian situation in Gaza and repeat Ireland’s call for an immediate ceasefire and for all aid routes to open.

Martin discusses Palestine recognition with Spanish Foreign Minister

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has said he held discussions with the Spanish Foreign Minister regarding recognition of the state of Palestine.

Earlier this week, Mr Martin said he will bring a formal proposal on recognition of a Palestinian state to the Government when “wider international discussions” are complete.

During Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, he told the Dáil that he also plans on speaking to his counterparts in Norway, Slovenia and other like-minded EU countries.

Micheál Martin rejected suggestions that weapons may be passing through Shannon Airport en route to Israel

It followed questions from Labour leader Ivana Bacik, who reiterated her call for Ireland to enact the Occupied Territories Bill, which would end trade between Ireland and the Occupied Territories.

Mr Martin told the house that trade was an EU competency, and therefore the Government has been advised that to enact the Occupied Territories Bill would be unlawful.

Ms Bacik, a barrister, said she believed there was a legal provision for Ireland to enact the piece of legislation.

She also referred to comments from UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories Francesca Albanese who said that Ireland needed to follow its words with actions.

Mr Martin told the Dáil that he had written to Ms Albanese regarding her comments, adding that he took issue with them.

He said that she was “unaware of certain measures we had taken”.

“We regretted the fact she had sought no meeting with us,” he added.

He also rejected suggestions that weapons may be passing through Shannon Airport en route to Israel.

“There is no-one using Shannon Airport for any weaponry to go into Gaza or into Israel for that matter,” Mr Martin said, with restrictions being imposed “stringently and robustly,” he said.

He was responding to Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith who said that Shannonwatch documented a sharp increase in the number of US military flights passing through Shannon since October.

She questioned the level of confidence Mr Martin expressed given “we don’t inspect them”.

Mr Martin accused Ms Smith of trying “to muddy the waters”, and said that there were “no applications” in 2023 or 2024 to transport “munitions of war on civil aircraft” through Irish airspace to Israel.

Additional reporting Micheál Lehane, Tommy Meskill


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