Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Irish ambassador called to Israeli ministry in ‘overreaction’ to Varadkar remark

Leo Varadkar was accused of legitimising terror (Jane Barlow/PA)
Leo Varadkar was accused of legitimising terror (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ireland’s ambassador in Tel Aviv has met with a senior official in the Israeli foreign ministry after the Irish premier was accused of legitimising terror in a statement about the release of a Hamas hostage, a move described by Dublin as an “overreaction”.

It comes after Israel took issue with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying “an innocent child who was lost has now been found” after Hamas released nine-year-old Irish-Israeli hostage Emily Hand.

Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen, said the child had been kidnapped and the comments were an attempt to “legitimise and normalise terror”.

British Irish Council summit
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Cohen posted on X at Mr Varadkar: “Mr Prime Minister, It seems you have lost your moral compass and need a reality check!

“Emily Hand was not ‘lost’, she was kidnapped by a terror organisation worse than Isis that murdered her stepmother.

“Emily and more than 30 other Israeli children were taken hostage by Hamas, and you @LeoVaradkar are trying to legitimise and normalise terror. Shame on you!”

Irish cabinet ministers have described Israel’s decision to summon and reprimand Ireland’s ambassador Sonya McGuinness an “overreaction”.

On Sunday Mr Varadkar said: “I call for all hostages to be released without any conditions and always have done so. And the Irish Government has worked very hard over the last few weeks, with Egypt, with Qatar, with the Red Cross and also with Israel.”

He told RTE that the most important thing was that Emily was at home with her family, adding “that’s all that really matters”.

Ms McGuinness met with the Israeli foreign ministry’s director-general for Europe, Daniel Meron, in Jerusalem on Monday.

According to a statement released after the meeting, Ms McGuinness presented the Israeli foreign ministry with the full statements issued by Mr Varadkar and deputy premier Micheal Martin following the release of Emily Hand.

A spokesperson said: “These statements referenced the traumatic experience endured by Emily and her family, reiterated thanks to international partners who had facilitated her freeing from captivity and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

“In this context, Ambassador McGuinness expressed surprise on the part of the Irish Government that these expressions of evident relief at Emily’s release had been publicly criticised by the Israeli Government.”

The ambassador also reiterated Ireland’s “unequivocal position” that all hostages held by Hamas should be immediately and unconditionally released.

She also discussed the importance of fully respecting international humanitarian law and getting “desperately needed humanitarian supplies to civilians in Gaza”.

Ms McGuinness said that the current truce should become a sustainable humanitarian ceasefire and that the international community must focus on a pathway to deliver a two-state solution, which can allow the people of Israel and Palestine to live in “peace and security as neighbours”.

Earlier, Ireland’s further education minister Simon Harris said Israel’s decision to summon the Irish ambassador for a reprimand was “a bit of an overreaction”.

Fine Gael party think-in
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

Speaking to RTE radio on Monday, Mr Harris said Ireland is “utterly elated” at the child’s release.

“This is a complete distraction. Emily Hand, the little girl, is free. She’s been 50 days in captivity.”

Asked if the relationship with Israel had been further strained, he said: “Israel has decided to summon a number of ambassadors from a number of European countries in recent days, it’s their prerogative to do that.

“I think it is a bit of an overreaction, being honest, and I think the Taoiseach’s statement was extraordinarily clear. The main thing is Emily Hand is back with her family.”

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys also described Israel’s response as an overreaction.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Varadkar’s position on violence in the Middle East is “crystal clear”.

Irish Budget
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mrs McDonald told the BBC she understands the Taoiseach’s position.

She said: “The child, young Emily, was kidnapped, she was held hostage and she has now been released to her family, and other hostages, and of course Palestinian women and children that were also held under administrative detention.

“I think, in fairness, the Taoiseach’s position has been very consistent and very clear on these matters.

“Remember that Gaza has had 50 days of bombardment, the place has been levelled, we are faced with thousands and thousands of deaths, thousands and thousands of innocent children dead.

“I think we should not play to any move to distract from that reality and the absolute necessity that we have a permanent ceasefire and a process of peace and dialogue.

“The language, that’s a matter for himself. I understand the Taoiseach’s position, I think it is crystal clear and, in fairness to him, I think he has been consistent on those matters.”