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Israel to close embassy in Ireland

People come together to support Palestine as they walk to the Israeli embassy in Dublin, Ireland [Tommy Morrin/Facebook]
People come together to support Palestine as they walk towards the Israeli embassy in Dublin, Ireland [Tommy Morrin/Facebook]

Israel's frosty relations with Ireland may get worse after news that it was considering closing its embassy in Dublin.

Sources in Israel reported that the Dublin embassy is the only western European mission on a list of seven embassies and consulates earmarked for closure by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as part of a cost-cutting plan.

The ministry is currently undergoing negotiations to decide on the embassies that will be closed.  A committee is due to submit recommendations by the end of the month.

It is widely suspected that the Netanyahu government is reassessing its priorities on the world stage. Africa is recognised as the continent with most potential for diplomatic inroads. Disappointment following Israel's defeat at the UN also encouraged the right-wing Knesset to punish states that voted against Trump's unilateral and illegal declaration to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Israeli government moved to close down diplomatic missions in seven countries at the beginning of the year. The Jerusalem Post reported that under the new plan, the embassies will be closed over the next three years, with three closed the first year, and two during each of the next two years after that.

Read: Irish Foreign Minister visits Gaza Strip

According to the Post, the decision was announced as Netanyahu talked of opening new offices, especially in Africa. He told Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a meeting in Nairobi in November that Israel would open an embassy in Kigali in the near future. Rwanda was one of 35 countries that decided to abstain during the UN vote last December.

Ireland on the other hand maintained its tradition of supporting the Palestinian cause by voting to denounce Trump's decision. With the Israeli government seeking to save money by reassessing its priorities abroad, Ireland is increasingly seen as a lost cause.

Despite opening its embassy in Dublin in 1996 after a long impasse, Ireland remains one of the most pro-Palestinian countries in the EU. Israeli officials have been expelled from the country and its policies are regularly denounced by Irish politicians.

It is a massive turnaround from Israel's formative years when Ireland, having faced religious persecution of its own, identified with the Jewish cause. This sympathy has since disappeared as the Irish people saw greater parallels with their national experience of suffering under foreign occupation and the persecution of Palestinians.

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