Irish visit to Middle East is hopefully part of a more educated view of Israel in Dublin says DUP lord

Lord Weir says he hopes that this week’s mission to the Middle East by Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin will herald a “more educated” response to the Israel-Gaza crisis from Dublin than has been seen to date.
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The DUP peer, who has been among the most prominent defenders of Israel in Northern Irish politics over the last five weeks, said that there is a sense among Israelis that the Republic of Ireland is “quite hostile” towards it.

Mr Martin visited Israel and the West Bank in September, before the latest flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas.

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On Monday he said he plans to visit Egypt (to meet foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and secretary general of the Arab League, Aboul Gheit), Israel (to see foreign minister Eli Cohen and – security permitting – to visit some of the settlements hit by Hamas’ October 7 attack), and Palestinian territory (almost certainly restricted to the West Bank, to meet foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki and possibly Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas).

A general view of Israeli soldiers and a tank, released by the IDFA general view of Israeli soldiers and a tank, released by the IDF
A general view of Israeli soldiers and a tank, released by the IDF

Speaking at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, Mr Martin said: “The situation in the region is at a critical point, with a catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and continued risks of regional escalation.

“I will be engaging in particular on the situation of Emily Hand, the eight-year old Irish-Israeli hostage, whose father Tom I will meet tomorrow in Dublin, as well as the situation of Irish citizens still in Gaza.”

"It remains to be seen what emerges from the visit,” said Lord Weir.

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"I think it is important that he's seeing both Palestinian perspectives – from the official Palestinian Authority – and also an Israeli perspective.

"I think there have been fairly widespread concerns. A lot of Israeli citizens don't see the Irish state [as] being particularly neutral in that regard, and hopefully this may have the impact of driving the Irish government to a more I suppose educated response in relation to what's happening out there.

"Putting it as diplomatically as possible, I don't think the Irish state has got the balance correct, and I think have at times been seen to be quite hostile to Israel at a time when obviously Israel was under a high level of attack.

"I suspect amongst many within Israel view the Irish state with a level of suspicion and maybe regard them as being on the more hostile side of neutral.”

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Jim Shannon meanwhile, another DUP figure who has taken a keen interest in the Middle East, said Mr Martin’s visit “seems like an actual progression and is to be welcomed”.

He added: “Israel has a right to defend and protect its people. I think it's important all Western countries and all those in power at Prime Ministerial level or foreign office level engage and understand why the Israelis feel so threatened.”

As of Sunday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) quoted the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza as saying the death toll there had reached 11,078, while another 3,250 people – including 1,700 children – are missing, presumed buried in rubble.

Meanwhile 47 Israeli soldiers have died.

The UN also says in Gaza most sewage stations have stopped pumping, 41,000 homes are destroyed, 22 hospitals (over half) are not functioning, and 70% of the population have left their homes.