(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Pro-Palestinian protesters prevented Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin from entering the main entrance of the Irish Parliament on Wednesday, forcing him to enter the building through a back entrance.
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Rivlin arrived in Ireland on Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking Israeli to visit the country since 1985.
The Knesset speaker told Israel Radio on Thursday that he had requested to speak with the protesters blocking his entry to the Irish Parliament, but security officers had prevented him from doing so.
Rivlin stated that despite the unpleasantness of having to enter the
building through the back door, he had encountered pro-Israel attitudes
in conversations with people in Ireland in addition to the great amount
of criticism for Israel existing in the country.
Despite strained ties between the countries in the past, Ireland
upgraded the visit, inviting Rivlin to meet with President Michael
Higgins and to stay at the official guest house where US President
Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II of England were recently hosted.
Rivlin told Israel Radio that Higgins emphasized he was not anti-Israel
and that the Irish president expressed to him a desire to visit Israel
and speak before the Knesset. Rivlin promised to invite Higgins for an
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Higgins has been a critic of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip and
called for the boycotting of Israeli products in the aftermath of
Operation Cast Lead. He was named Irish president, a mainly ceremonial
role, in October.
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