Israel investigating why Dublin mayor was allowed into country despite ban over boycott support


Israeli authorities are investigating why Dublin’s mayor was allowed in the country even though he was banned for supporting boycotts against the country.

Interior minister Arieh Deri ordered an inquiry after Michael Mac Donncha announced he was in the West Bank city of Ramallah for a conference. He landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport.

Israel planned to block his entry because of his support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement, which has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with the country. 

Supporters of the movement say the tactics are a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. Israel meanwhile, has maintained the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for their state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimise or destroy the nation. 

Israel says the campaign, with its call for a return of Palestinian refugees to land inside Israel, goes beyond opposition to the West Bank occupation and masks a deeper aim of destroying the country.

As a result it has blacklisted a number of individuals and organisations over their support.    

Mr Mac Donncha, who claimed he was unaware that he had been banned, said attempts to bar his entry failed, because officials spelt his name wrong. 

“The Israeli strategic affairs minister did allow me in,” he told Irish radio station, Newstalk’s breakfast show. “He said the problem was someone spelling my name wrong.”

In an earlier statement, Mr Mac Donncha said he was going to Ramallah “to acknowledge that East Jerusalem is the designated capital of Palestine under the two-state solution”.

“I am also here to express solidarity with the people of Palestine who are suffering violence from Israeli forces, as witnessed in Gaza most recently with the shooting down of protesters,” he added.

Interior Minister Arieh Deri, who ordered an inquiry after Mr Mac Donncha’s arrival, said that said that upon his departure, he would be notified he will not be allowed back.

Earlier this week, Dublin City Council voted to urge the Irish government to expel Israel’s ambassador over the killings of Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

Militant group Hamas has called for Palestinians to amass at the border with Israel as part of a weeks-long campaign of protests against a decade-old Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the territory.

Twenty-six protesters have been killed thus far.  

Additional reporting by AP