THE SEANAD HAS passed a motion calling on the Irish Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine.
Last week, 31 of the upper house’s 60 members signed the motion which was proposed by Fianna Fáil’s Averil Power.
Fine Gael senators met to discuss their position on the motion yesterday and it was passed earlier today without a vote.
Power said it was important that the international community “sends out a clear message of support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination” following a seven-week period of intense fighting in the Gaza region during the summer.
According to UN figures, 2,138 Palestinians, almost three-quarters of them civilians, and 68 on the Israeli side, nearly all of them soldiers, were killed in Israeli air strikes and tank shelling.
If Ireland were to officially recognise the State of Palestine, it would become the second EU country to do so, after Sweden.
Other European countries such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia recognise Palestine, but they did so before joining the 28-member bloc.
The motion stated:
Seanad Éireann calls on the Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine and do everything it can at the international level to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Power told TheJournal.ie it received “strong cross-party support”.
“The more countries that recognise the State of Palestine, the greater the pressure on Israel to end its illegal occupation and agree to a long-term peace agreement in the region.
Ireland has traditionally been vocal in our support for the Palestinian people and proactive in lobbying on their behalf internationally.
“We should now be to the forefront of international efforts to secure full recognition for the Palestinian State and deliver a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Power stated.
The Mission of the State of Palestine group welcomed the news.
“On behalf of the Palestinian people, we would like to extend our gratitude to the Seanad, the Government and the Irish people for their continued support of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and to achieve an independent State of Palestine based on a two-state solution.”
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign congratulated the Seanad for passing the motion, with their spokesperson Freda Hughes saying that it was an important expression of support for Palestinian statehood.
She said she hoped the motion would increase support for a similar vote in the Dáil.
Additional reporting Christina Finn