(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin encountered a crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters
outside the Irish Parliament Wednesday night, forcing him to enter through the
building’s back entrance.
Over 400 activists gathered in front of the
parliament building, calling for a boycott of Israel, and Rivlin was asked to
enter through the parliament’s back door out of fear for his safety.
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Knesset speaker, who arrived in Ireland on Tuesday, is the most senior Israeli
official to do so since 1985.
Rivlin had been invited by the speaker of
the lower house of the Irish Parliament, Sean Barrett, who visited Israel six
months ago. Barrett told Rivlin that despite the disagreements between Israel
and Ireland, he admires the Israeli speaker’s defense of democracy and the right
for every voice to be heard.
“Israel is, first of all, a democracy, and
for that we commend you,” Barrett said.
The Knesset speaker was
accompanied by MK Isaac Herzog (Labor), whose grandfather, Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog,
was the first chief rabbi of Ireland before becoming chief rabbi of Israel in
Contrary to Rivlin’s expectations, he and Herzog were also invited
to meet with Irish President Michael D. Higgins.
Higgins is an outspoken
critic of Israel and supporter of Palestinian causes, who served as the head of
the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine in Ireland for many years.
Israel, we get the impression that Ireland is constantly denouncing us,” Rivlin
“We agree to our right to disagree, but you must hear our arguments
and know the facts.”
Rivlin warned that Irish admiration for the
Palestinians should not be understood as allowing them to do whatever they want
without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. There will never be a peace
agreement, according to Rivlin, if the Palestinians continue in their
In addition, Rivlin told Gilmore that Ireland should not support
the Palestinian right of return, which would “de facto negate the right of the
Jewish state to exist.”
Gilmore responded that his country experienced a
conflict between two populations, and came to an agreement after 70
“If we can reach an agreement, so can you,” Gilmore said.