TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has said that the United Nations’ historic vote to give non-member observer status to Palestine should pave the way for further peace negotiations with Israel in the region.
He was speaking after Ireland joined 137 countries at the general assembly in voting for the status which will enable the Palestinians to join UN agencies and sign international treaties.
While Israel and the United States – who were among nine countries to vote against the move – criticised the vote as setting obstacles towards peace, Foreign Affairs Minister Gilmore said that the vote was an important step.
“Tonight’s vote represents an important step for the Palestinian people on their path towards full statehood as well as for all those who look forward to the day when Palestine can rightfully take its place as a full member of the United Nations,” he said last night.
He said that Ireland had “long-championed” the cause of Palestinian statehood as well as the importance of a “comprehensive peace settlement” based on a two-state solution where Israel and Palestine live “side-by-side in peace and security”.
“President Abbas has made clear that tonight’s decision will open the way for him, on behalf of the Palestinian people, to return to substantive peace negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government,” Gilmore continued.
He urged both sides to return to the negotiating table citing recent setbacks including events in Gaza where a week-long conflict cost the lives of over 160 people, mostly in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip after Israel responded to rocket fire.
Gilmore added that this would not be easy: “No one knows better than the Irish people the onerous responsibility which conflict resolution and peace-building entails and the difficult and painful compromises which it is ultimately likely to involve.”