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22 May 2024

‘This is about peace’: Ireland recognises the state of Palestine

22 May 2024

Ireland has announced that it recognises the state of Palestine in a joint move with Norway and Spain.

Irish premier Simon Harris said the decision was taken due to Ireland’s understanding of a country’s fight for international recognition, and based on a belief in “permanent peace”.

The decision is to formally take effect on May 28.

The Taoiseach said that “ideally” recognition of Palestine would have been taken as part of a peace settlement in the Middle East, but said “our decision to recognise Palestine should not have to wait indefinitely”.

“Today Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognise the state of Palestine,” said Mr Harris.

“Each of us will now undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision.”

Shortly before Mr Harris made the announcement outside Government Buildings in Dublin, Israel recalled its ambassador in Ireland, with its foreign affairs minister Israel Katz calling it a “distorted step”.

Israel’s embassy in Ireland said that it views Ireland’s move to recognise Palestine as “undermining its sovereignty and security” and as “damaging to our bilateral relations”.

It said the Israeli government has recalled its ambassador in Dublin Dana Erlich “temporarily for consultations”.

“We are disappointed by the Irish Government’s decision on recognition, which follows worrying initiatives and statements in recent months,” the embassy said.

“We can only resolve our differences through bilateral negotiation. Just as in Ireland’s case, political steps cannot be imposed.”

The Taoiseach said that “Israel loses nothing from the recognition of the state of Palestine” and condemned the “barbaric massacre carried out by Hamas” on October 7 last year.

“Recognising the state of Palestine sends a message that there is a viable alternative to the nihilism of Hamas. Hamas has nothing to offer but pain and suffering to Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Mr Harris said.

“There is also no future in the extremist version of Zionism that fuels settler violence and illegal appropriation of land in the West Bank.”

He said that Ireland understands the importance of recognition as “an act of powerful, political and symbolic value” through its own past.

“On January 21 1919, Ireland asked the world to recognise our rights 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 rights to self-determination and justice.

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

Mr Harris called for a ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages, unhindered access for humanitarian aid, “no further” military incursion into Rafah, and “no more Hamas or Hezbollah rockets fired at Israel”.

“Civilians on all sides must be protected by international humanitarian law. Violence and hatred can only ever be a dead end. The only pathway to peace is political.”

An ambition to recognise Palestinian statehood has been a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy as part of the Government’s belief in a two-state solution.

“Today’s decision is about the empowering of moderation within Palestine,” Ireland’s deputy premier and foreign affairs minister Micheal Martin said.

“It can be argued that the Israeli strategy, war and suppression of the Palestinian people, has empowered extremism, and we’re moving in a different direction.”

He added: “This is very much about peace.”

Green Party leader and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said: “We have been considering for decades, I recall, in our parliament this issue of the recognition of the state of Palestine, and for many decades we’ve said ‘now is not the right moment, this is not the right time’.

“But today is the right time, an important time for us to do that.”

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