The press conference given by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Brussels on Tuesday took a dramatic turn when an Irish journalist began heckling him by shouting 'Free Palestine, 'Israel apartheid state' and 'Apartheid is a crime' at the start of Lieberman's press conference with EU officials.
David Cronin, author and self-described campaigning journalist roared at the minister: "Mr Lieberman this is citizen’s arrest. You are charged with the crime of apartheid. Please come with me to the nearest police station.”
Cronin, who writes for several broadsheet newspapers including The Guardian, The Irish Times and the European Voice was confronted by security and removed from the EU Council press room .
Lieberman was attending the tenth meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council, the body governing the relations between the two sides.
Following his attempted citizen's arrest Cronin said "I was about to say something further when I felt two guards grabbing my arms. I shouted ‘Free Palestine’ two times; I shouted ‘Apartheid is a crime’ once.”
Cronin said he had made the decision to confront the Foreign Minister having visited occupied territories last Friday. He said he was "shocked by how Israeli soldiers and police in full riot gear were firing tear gas at young boys who were doing nothing more sinister than throwing stones at the forces of occupation.
“Although apartheid is synonymous with South Africa, it has been recognized as a crime by the United Nations since 1973.”
“In the two years that Lieberman and his party Yisrael Beitenu have been in government, about 20 new laws and bills have been brought before the Knesset with the specific aim of copper-fastening Israeli apartheid,” said Cronin.
He also played down the fact that his press badge, which allowed him access to the headquarters of EU's main institutions, had been confiscated.
"Palestinians are deprived of liberty every day because of the policies pursued by Lieberman and his government colleagues. Compared to the restrictions on movement caused by military checkpoints in the West Bank or by that medieval blockade of Gaza, the loss of my press card is of no consequence,” he said.
On his blog Cronin wrote that Leiberman was “the architect of a series of laws designed to make Israeli apartheid even more draconian than it already is.”
“If apartheid is a crime, there is only one way to treat its practitioners: arrest them. That is precisely what I tried to do."
Last year the 39-year-old Dubliner attempted to arrest former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes in Iraq when Blair was on his way to the European parliament to address a committee on his work as Middle East peace envoy.