TEL AVIV (Jun. 23)
President Chaim Herzog, who returned Friday from a five-day State visit to Ireland, the country of his birth, said his reception there was an exceptionally warm demonstration for a “local boy” who has become a chief of State.
But the attitude of the Irish, he said, was perplexing in some ways. They are far more concerned by the minor disputes the Israel Defense Force and its ally, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), have had with Irish soldiers serving in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) than they are with the current hijack-hostage drama still in crisis stage in Beirut, Herzog reported.
He said the Jewish community in Ireland had expressed dismay over the clashes between UNIFIL Irish troops and the SLA and amazement that a non-Israeli element such as the SLA could dictate relations between Israel and other countries.
With respect to the political aspects of his visit, Herzog said that he and Ireland’s leaders each made clear their differing positions on Middle East issues. But there was also a large degree of harmony which would lead to concrete agreements in the fields of agricultural, technological and commercial relations between the two countries, Herzog said.
According to observers here, one concrete result of Herzog’s visit will be Ireland’s agreement to waive visas for visiting Israelis. But there were no indications that either country will soon open an embassy in the other. At present Israel’s diplomatic relations with Ireland are handled by its Ambassador in London. There is no Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv.