Irish FM to ‘Post’: BDS is up to consumers

Flanagan, considered in Jerusalem to be a friend of Israel inside a country often very critical.

June 16, 2016 02:09
2 minute read.

A demonstrator wears a shirt reading 'Boycott Israel' [File]. (photo credit: AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)

While saying he is “fundamentally against boycotts,” Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he does not support legislation against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions efforts as some states are initiating in the US.

“I leave this entirely to the consumer to make the choice,” he said, when asked what he thought of New York Gov.

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Andrew Cuomo’s executive action last week directing state bodies to boycott those boycotting Israel.

Flanagan, considered in Jerusalem to be a friend of Israel inside a country often very critical, said in the Irish parliament last month that while opposed to boycotts, “I do not agree with attempts to demonize those who advocate this policy, or to equate them with violent terrorists.”

The issue is ultimately one “upon which the consumer will decide in terms of the trading of goods, the display of goods, the purchase of a product,” he told the Post. “I leave this entirely to the consumer. I don’t subscribe to a boycott. I think such boycotts can be counterproductive.

I fundamentally disagree with boycotts. But I acknowledge that there is another view, and that in a democracy such as Ireland we subscribe to free speech. If people hold that view, I believe that it is legitimate for them to do so. I don’t share it; I disagree with it fundamentally.”

Reminded of Israel’s position that the ultimate goal of BDS is Israel’s elimination, Flanagan was asked whether that position, too, was legitimate. His reply: In Ireland, the BDS voice has been “encouraging boycott of Israeli goods and services, and I disagree with that.”

Flanagan met Tuesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the Prime Minister’s Office did not comment on the meeting. The Prime Minister’s Office generally issues some sort of statement following meetings with foreign ministers, as it did Wednesday following a meeting between Netanyahu and visiting Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski.

Flanagan characterized his talks with Netanyahu as “very positive and constructive,” and that among the issues discussed was the French diplomatic initiative. Flanagan attended a summit of some 30 foreign ministers and diplomats in Paris earlier this month to launch the initiative, which has been slammed by Netanyahu.

The Irish foreign minister expressed hope that “we can chart a path throughout the summer months, leading to an international conference in December.”

The full interview with Flanagan will appear in Friday’s Jerusalem Post.

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