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23rd Oct 2023

TD hits back after Israeli Ambassador reacts strongly to President’s comments

Simon Kelly

Israeli Ambassador Ireland

Calls have been made for the ambassador’s position to be put “under question”.

A TD has hit back after the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich, accused Michael D Higgins of repeating “misinformation.”

Last week the President said that Israel was “creating a huge humanitarian crisis” and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s declaration of war reduced the Geneva conventions to “tatters”.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Ms Erlich said of President Higgins’ comments: “This is misinformation. Because announcing beforehand – that is not breaking, that is in accordance with international law.

“What he said is legally wrong,” she added. “And that is my frustration. Because people will listen when the President says it.”

TD hits back at Israeli Ambassador’s comments towards President

After Ms Erlich’s comments were published, Labour leader Ivana Bacik described the ambassador’s comments as “outrageous” and said her “position should now be under question”.

Speaking on The Week in Politics on RTÉ One on Sunday, Ms Bacik said: “I think she has overstepped the line. I think it’s outrageous, frankly, that she is calling our elected President’s comments ‘inflammatory’.

“She accused him of breaching the law and saying something that was illegal when it wasn’t, and I think that is a very serious matter for an ambassador to do. I think her position should now be under question”.

On whether President Higgins has the right to make such comments, Ms Bacik, a lecturer of Law in Trinity College, replied: “He does have a right to say so, and I was interested to see the Government did not disagree with him, and indeed the Taoiseach said that the President expressed no more than the Government had been saying.”

On Friday, the President stood firm on his political comments in the past, saying he will not be “silent” on such issues and asked the public whether they wanted a “puppet or a President”.

“I have been elected as President of Ireland twice,” he told the media. “It’s a deep honour, a deep privilege and a great responsibility. Not just that I have a responsibility – I am reflecting the will of the people.”

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