Ireland–Israel relations

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Ireland-Israel relations
Map indicating locations of Ireland and Israel



Ireland–Israel relations are foreign relations between Ireland and Israel.

Since 25 January 1996, Ireland has an embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel has an embassy in Dublin. The Israeli ambassador to Ireland is Boaz Modai[1] and the Irish ambassador to Israel is Eamonn C. McKee.[2] Both countries are full members of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Commercial ties[edit]

The commercial relationship between Israel and Ireland goes back to the early days of Israeli statehood. In 1988, Israeli exports to Ireland were valued at $23.5 million, while Irish exports to Israel were valued at $32.8 million. By 1998, the figures were up to $196 million and $230 million respectively. Irish exports now total $344 million and Israeli exports are close to $200 million.[citation needed]

Israeli exports to Ireland include machinery and electronics, rubber and plastics, chemicals, textiles, optical/medical equipment, gems, and fruit and vegetables. Irish exports to Israel include machinery and electronics, chemicals, textiles, foodstuffs, beverages, and optical/medical equipment.[3] A bilateral agreement on double taxation signed in 1995 has facilitated economic cooperation.[4]


According to Haaretz newspaper, Ireland was the most popular destination for Israeli holidaymakers in 2000. In 2004, a peak number of Irish nationals visited Israel to attend the Ireland-Israel World Cup qualifying match.[4]


Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1975. Prior to 1975, Ireland had refused to establish relations due to Israel's alleged violations of UN Resolutions. In 1981, however, Ireland condemned Israel's attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor. Ireland did not allow an Israeli embassy to open until 20 December 1993. Two weeks prior to that, Ireland had allowed PLO Leader Yasser Arafat to visit and open a delegation.

Ireland annually provides €7.5 million in aid to the Palestinians, including €3.5 million for UNRWA.[5]

1970 to 2000[edit]

In 1978, the Irish Army contributed forces to Lebanon as part of UNIFIL, a UN peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon, which was the scene of fierce fighting between Israeli forces and their proxy militias and Lebanese guerillas. From 1978 to 2000, Ireland contributed over 40,000 troops to UNIFIL, and was the country's largest military involvement outside its own borders. Tensions erupted between the two countries over alleged mistreatment of Irish forces by the Israel Defense Forces. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Irish troops regularly called in the Israelis to threaten and discipline them over their treatment of Irish peacekeepers. Irish Foreign Minister Brian Lenihan said that much of his sympathy for Israel disappeared when he saw how Irish soldiers were treated.[6] Irish forces were a major participant in the Battle of At Tiri, where UNIFIL troops withstood an attack by the South Lebanon Army, an Israeli-backed militia, after it attempted to set up a checkpoint in At Tiri. One Irish soldier was killed in the battle. Following the 2006 Lebanon War, Ireland deployed a unit of 150 troops to protect Finnish Army engineers.[7]

In 1978, Aer Lingus, the national airline of Ireland without prior agreement with the Irish government, secretly trained Egyptian Air Force pilots, at a time when Israel and Egypt were still in peace talks, and had yet to sign a treaty.[8]


In 2003, the Irish government opposed the building of Israel's security wall in the West Bank.

According to WikiLeaks, following the 2006 Lebanon War, Ireland prevented the United States from moving military equipment destined for Israel through Shannon Airport.[9]


On 19 January 2010, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh a senior Hamas military commander was assassinated in Dubai by a team of eight suspected Mossad officers who used counterfeit European passports, including Irish passports.[10] The Irish government responded by expelling a staff member of the Israeli Embassy in Dublin.[11] Ireland subsequently delayed an EU-Israel agreement which would involve allowing Israel to access sensitive information on EU citizens, and demanded that Israel tighten its data protection laws.[12]

On 5 June 2010, an Irish humanitarian aid vessel MV Rachel Corrie heading for Gaza, was intercepted and seized by the Israeli Navy.[13] This caused political tension between Ireland and Israel.[14] [15]

On 25 January 2011, Ireland upgraded the Palestinian envoy in Ireland to that of a full embassy which resulted in the Irish Ambassador to Israel being summoned. Israel announced that it "regrets" the decision.[16]

On 4 November 2011, the Irish ship MV Saoirse carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza was intercepted by the Israeli Navy in international waters. The Navy boarded the ship, took those aboard in custody and towed it to Ashdod. In response, Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore stated that the Irish government do "not agree with [the Gaza blockade], (...) regard it as contrary to international humanitarian law in its impact on the civilian population of Gaza, and (...) have repeatedly urged Israel to end a policy which is unjust, counter-productive and amounts to collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians."[17]

On 16 November 2011, unnamed sources from the Israeli Foreign Ministry claimed that "Ireland (is the) most hostile country in Europe" and was "pushing all of Europe's countries to a radical and uncompromising approach". An unnamed official argued that "the Irish government is feeding its people with anti-Israel hatred" and that "what we are seeing here is clear anti-Semitism." An official from the Irish Foreign Affairs Department announced that "the Government is critical of Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. It is not hostile to Israel and it is clearly wrong to suggest as much," he said. "The notion that this Government is or would be trying to stoke up anti-Israeli feeling is untrue. We are not hostile to Israel. We are critical of policies, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territories. These are not the same things".[18] Israel’s ambassador to Ireland was reported as distancing himself from claims of Irish anti-Semitism.[19] In December 2012 the IsraelinIreland posted on the Embassy's Facebook page a comment that was viewed as racist and slanderous to Palestinians: "A thought for Christmas… If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought ...".[20][21][22][23] The post resulted in protests, and the Embassy removed the statement issuing an apology, and posted the following statement: "To whom it may concern: An image of Jesus and Mary with a derogatory comment about Palestinians was posted without the consent of the administrator of the Facebook page. We have removed the post in question immediately. Apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Merry Christmas!"

In early 2012 the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised a "cultural boycott" of Israel, as a result of which Irish music group Dervish (band) cancelled a proposed tour of Israel, citing "an 'avalanche of negativity' and 'venom' directed towards them." [24] This online campaign was officially condemned by Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter [25] and Irish Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore [26]

In 2013, Alan Shatter, minister of Justice, Equality and Defense said, while visiting Israel, that “Ireland is a friend of Israel. We have a government in Ireland that wants a deeper engagement. But we also have a government in Ireland that is committed to the peace process."[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Ireland-Israel trade relations
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "150 Irish troops to join UN interim force in Lebanon". The Irish Times. 9 September 2006. [dead link]
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "'Hit squad' used fake Irish passports". February 16, 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  11. ^ "Irish to expel Israeli diplomat over Hamas killing". BBC News. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "Ireland delays EU deal with Israel on data transfers". BBC News. 3 September 2010. 
  13. ^ Laub, Karin (June 5, 2010). "Israel remains defiant, seizes Gaza-bound aid ship". Associated Press. Retrieved June 5, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Taoiseach warns Israel of 'serious consequences'". Irish Times Newspaper. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  15. ^ Myers, Kevin (20 August 2010). "Kevin Myers: Cead mile failte to Hell, Mr Israeli ambassador". Irish Independent. 
  16. ^ Weiss, Mark; Fitzgerald, Mary (26 January 2011). "Israel summons Ambassador over Palestinian envoy upgrade". The Irish Times. 
  17. ^ "Irish activists to be deported from Israel after MV Saoirse detained". Irish Independent. 5 November 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  18. ^,7340,L-4149059,00.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ Minihan, Mary; Weiss, Mark (17 November 2011). "Ireland rejects claim of hostility towards Israel". The Irish Times. 
  20. ^ Robert Tait (18 December 2012). "Israel investigates embassy 'Christmas message'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Leon Watson (18 December 2012). "Israeli embassy says sorry after Facebook post claiming Mary and Jesus 'would be lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians' if alive today". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  22. ^ "Israeli Embassy: ‘If alive today, Jesus and Mary would be lynched by hostile Palestinians’". Russia Today. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  23. ^ Raphael Ahren (17 December 2012). "Israeli Embassy’s ‘lynching Jesus’ Facebook post sparks Irish ire". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  24. ^ Irish Independent."Dr Deane and The Boys have gone too far this time" May 27th 2012 Dr Deane and The Boys have gone too far this time
  25. ^ Shatter critical of cyber-bullying
  26. ^ Gilmore slams ‘unacceptable efforts to harass’ artists from performing in Israel
  27. ^ Irish minister to ‘Post’: Ireland not hostile

External links[edit]