The Israeli government has been forced to deny any involvement in a campaign to derail the campaign to get Senator David Norris elected as President of Ireland.
The bizarre move was made by the Israeli embassy in Dublin as the Norris bid for the Aras teetered on the brink of collapse.
Weekend revelations that Norris wrote a letter, on Irish senate headed paper, in defense of a former Israeli boyfriend convicted of the rape of a 15-year-old boy have all but destroyed his bid to succeed Mary McAleese.
The letter was originally released by a 22-year old blogger, John Connolly, based in London who is pro-Israel.
Key members of the Norris campaign team have resigned and some of his backers in the Irish senate have confirmed they are questioning their support for his nomination.
One backer – the Independent Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan – has claimed that Norris has been targeted in ‘a particularly nasty way’.
Supporters have even claimed online that the Israelis are behind a campaign to ruin Norris after the publication of his 1998 letter of support for former boyfriend Ezra Yishak Nawi when he was convicted of the rape of a teenage Palestinian boy.
The internet claims of Israeli involvement have been categorically denied by officials at their Dublin embassy.
They issued a statement on Sunday denying any involvement or interest in anything to do with the Irish presidential election.
As support wanes for Norris, his close friend Fergus Finlay, who unsuccessfully contested the Labor Party nomination, has called on the Senator to withdraw from the race.
“If anyone wrote a letter like that on headed government paper, we would seek their resignation,” said Finlay.
Independent Dublin deputy Finian McGrath is also re-considering his support for the Norris nomination.
“I had a very detailed conversation with him and I’m studying the letters at the moment,” said McGrath.
Fellow Independent Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan is standing by her man.
“David has been targeted in a particularly nasty way ever since his campaign began,” claimed O’Sullivan.
“Those early opinion polls showed him very far ahead, and the way in which his words were taken out of context, and the way they were sensationalized in those articles earlier on so I’ve no doubt that there’s some campaign against him.”
Norris needs the support of five County Councils or 20 members of the Irish parliament to run for president.
So far he has only secured 14 votes within the parliament and many of them are now hanging in the balance.