Rivlin met in Ireland by pro-Palestinian protesters

Knesset Speaker unexpectedly invited to Irish President's office, discusses peace process with FM.

Rivlin 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Rivlin 311
(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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The 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 1937.
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.
“In Israel, we get the impression that Ireland is constantly denouncing us,” Rivlin said.
“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 refusal.
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 years.
“If we can reach an agreement, so can you,” Gilmore said.