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Palestine

Israel says Ireland's decision to officially recognise State of Palestine is 'prize for terrorism'

Taoiseach Simon Harris described it as a “historic and important day” for Ireland and for Palestine.

LAST UPDATE | 22 May

IRELAND IS OFFICIALLY recognising the State of Palestine.

Speaking on the steps of Government buildings this morning, Taoiseach Simon Harris said: “Today, Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognise the State of Palestine.” 

He described it as a “historic and important day” for Ireland and for Palestine.

Harris said that the Palestinian people deserve a future of peace and hope rather than suffering, adding that the people of Israel deserve the same.

The recognition will formally take effect next week on 28 May.

The Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich, today told Newstalk’s Pat Kennedy Show that Ireland’s decision to recognise the State of Palestine is a “prize for terrorism”.

A Bill recognising Palestinian statehood passed successfully through both the Seanad and the Dáil in 2014 but the Government had yet to follow through on it, instead saying it wished to do so in coordination with other EU states.

In March, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar released a joint statement with Malta, Slovenia and Spain saying that the countries had “discussed together our readiness to recognise Palestine and said that we would do so when it can make a positive contribution and the circumstances are right”.

‘Political and symbolic value’

Announcing Ireland’s recognition of Palestine as a state, Harris reflected on Ireland’s own efforts a century ago to be recognised internationally as a sovereign nation.

“On the 21st of January 1919, Ireland asked the world to recognise our right to be an independent state. Our message to the free nations of the world was a plea for international recognition of our independence, emphasising our distinct national identity, our historical struggle, and our right to self-determination and justice,” the Taoiseach said.

“Today, we use the same language to support the recognition of Palestine as a state.

We do so because we believe in freedom and justice as the fundamental principles of international law and because we believe that permanent peace can only be secured upon the basis of the free will of a free people.

Harris described recognition as “an act of powerful political and symbolic value” and “an expression of our view that Palestine holds and should be able to vindicate the full rights of a state, including self-determination, self-governance, territorial integrity and security, as well as recognising Palestine’s own obligations under international law”.

“It is a message to those in Palestine who advocate and work for a future of peace and democracy that we fully respect your aspirations to be living freely in control of your own affairs and under your own leadership.”

He said it is “never the wrong time to do the right thing”.

I want to know in years to come that Ireland spoke up, spoke out in favour of peace, in favour of a political settlement that allows children in Palestine and children in Israel to live safely and in peace and security side-by-side.

The Taoiseach also said he supports the existence of the Israeli state, reiterating the Irish government’s position in favour of a two-state solution, and condemned Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who stood outside Government buildings with the Taoiseach for the announcement alongside fellow coalition leader Eamon Ryan, said that the move is a “clear and immutable statement of our deeply-held belief that there can be no peace in the Middle East until the Israeli and Palestinian peoples alike enjoy the same rights to self-determination, statehood, peace, security and dignity”.

He set out the Irish government’s position on what the future should look like as follows: “A new pathway is needed towards the aim that is overwhelmingly endorsed by the international community;  a two-state solution based on 1967 borders, with the State of Israel, and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign, and viable State of Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both states.”

When asked what his response is to people who might view this as a populist decision ahead of the upcoming EU elections, Taoiseach Simon Harris responded: “I would say they clearly don’t understand the psyche or the depth of feeling of the Irish people.”

The Tánaiste added that this was included in the Government’s programme for government in 2020.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the Oireachtas “voted for recognition a decade ago”. 

“This is a really, really crucial and important moment for Palestine, for the Middle East, for the world,” McDonald said. 

“And of course, this can only be the beginning. What we need is the ceasefire. We need Western powers to stop arming and supporting Israel and its genocidal attacks on the Palestinians,” she said, adding that there also needs to be a “robust peace process grounded in international law” to create the independent Palestinian state and a safe Israel. 

“Every child, whether you’re born in Tel Aviv or Ramallah, you have a right to a safe and secure life,” McDonald said. 

“The international community now needs to decide for peace and we need to be very active, so this announcement is a point of departure, it’s not a conclusion.”

Israel recalls envoys

Israel recalled its envoys from Ireland and Norway for “urgent consultations” this morning ahead of the two governments’ expected moves to formally recognise a Palestinian state.

“Today, I am sending a sharp message to Ireland and Norway: Israel will not go over this in silence. I have just ordered the return of the Israeli ambassadors from Dublin and Oslo to Israel for further consultations in Jerusalem,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement.

Norway has also recognised the State of Palestine this morning, while Spain’s prime minister said it will give recognition on 28 May.

The Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich, today said Ireland’s decision to recognise the State of Palestine is a “prize for terrorism”.

“How does this help the people of Gaza?” Erlich said on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show. 

“Half an hour after the announcement, Hamas welcomed and celebrated the statement, calling it a direct result of the ‘brave resistance’ on October 7th,” she said. 

“The fact that Hamas is welcoming this step, that Iran is welcoming this step is a clear sign that this is seen as a prize for terrorism.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One today, Erlich said condemnation of Hamas is missing from the conversation in Ireland. 

“The condemnation is welcomed of the atrocities of 7 October. But we need to remember that Hamas’ atrocities did not stop on 7 October, they only started,” Erlich said. 

“What they have been doing every day since – they would have killed more Israelis every day if they would have been given an option,” she added. 

“So, holding them accountable for the atrocities of 7 October is not enough.”

The unprecedented attack resulted in the death of more than 1,170 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Out of 252 people taken hostage that day, 128 are still being held inside the Gaza Strip, including 38 who the army says are dead.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a blistering retaliatory offensive that has killed more than 35,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

The Israeli military says 279 soldiers have been killed in the Gaza military campaign since the start of the ground offensive on 27 October.

Includes reporting by Lauren Boland, Jane Matthews and AFP

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