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Irish ambassador subjected to ‘unacceptable’ treatment by Israel, Martin says

Israel’s reprimand of Ireland’s ambassador was “totally unacceptable”, the Irish deputy premier has said.

Micheal Martin made the remarks after Ambassador Sonya McGuinness was summoned to the Israeli foreign affairs ministry and reprimanded over Ireland’s decision to recognize the state of Palestine.

As proceedings began, Ms McGuinness was shown footage of Hamas that Israel claimed was filmed on October 7.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Martin said: “I find that totally unacceptable and no way to treat diplomats, and it is outside the norm by which diplomats are treated in any country.”

On Wednesday, Ireland announced its recognition of the state of Palestine in a joint move with Norway and Spain.

The decision is to formally take effect in the three countries on Tuesday.

In response, Israel warned there would be “severe consequences.”

The Israeli foreign affairs minister, Israel Katz, claimed Ireland and Taoiseach Simon Harris had “rewarded terrorism.”

He said the Irish, Norwegian and Spanish ambassadors would be shown the footage as part of a “severe demarche”.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Martin said: “Diplomatic channels are very important in terms of maintaining contact with people explaining governments’ respective positions.

“Sonya McGuinness is an outstanding ambassador and we have consistently condemned the Hamas attack on October 7.”

Israeli media outlets were also filming the meeting, Mr Martin said.

He added that Irish officials had anticipated that Ms McGuinness would be called to the foreign ministry but said showing her the footage in front of Israeli national media was something they had not “witnessed before in other countries or jurisdictions.”

Mr Martin added: “Most people would accept internationally that that’s not within the parameters of acceptable norms in terms of how people engage with diplomats.

“I will communicate directly to, in writing if necessary, to the Israeli foreign minister because our speeches on recognition of Palestine were balanced.

“In terms of my own contribution, it was very clear in terms of our rejection of any mono-ethnic approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Since Wednesday, Israeli officials have repeatedly criticized Ireland’s decision to recognize Palestinian statehood.

Mr Katz accused the Irish government of awarding a “gold medal” to Hamas.

Mr Harris rejected the characterization of the movement and accused Israel of misrepresenting the views of Ireland.

On Thursday, he said: “Any foreign ministry can call in any ambassador but what I will not tolerate is any country misrepresenting the position of the Irish people.

“I am the leader of the Irish Government, I speak on behalf of Ireland and we have been clear and unequivocal that we condemn Hamas, that we condemn the most horrific, barbaric massacre that Israel experienced on the seventh of October.

“We call for the unconditional and immediate release of all hosts.

“But it is entirely possible to say what I have just said and also say the next bit – which sadly some refuse to say – that what is happening in Palestine, what is happening in Gaza, is a humanitarian catastrophe.”

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