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

Ireland has announced its recognition of the state of Palestine in a joint move with Norway and Spain.

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

The decision is to formally take effect in the three countries next Tuesday May 28.

The Palestinian flag is due to be flown at the Irish parliament buildings next Tuesday to mark the event.

The Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail confirmed to the Dail that the flag will be flow as part of the day.

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.

Simon Harris and Micheal Martin
Mr Harris and Tanaiste Micheal Martin speaking to the media during a press conference outside the Government Buildings, Dublin (Damien Storan/PA)

“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 Dana Erlich “temporarily for consultations”.

Asked on RTE’s Six One programme if she would be returning to Ireland, Ms Erlich said: “I don’t feel that I have finished my time here. I think that there is still much more to be done.”

Israel’s foreign affairs minister Israel Katz calling Palestinian recognition a “distorted step” and said he has “issued a severe démarche” to the Irish, Spanish and Norwegian ambassadors to Israel.

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”.

“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 Irish Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Irish Ambassador Sonya McGuinness, as well as her Spanish and Norwegian counterparts, had been summoned to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

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.”

Irish leaders
An ambition to recognise Palestinian statehood has been a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy (Damien Storan/PA)

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.”

A statement from the Irish Government said that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told Mr Harris that the announcement was a “beacon of hope to the Palestinian people”.

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.

Ireland’s deputy premier and foreign affairs minister Micheal Martin is to travel to Brussels on Sunday to meet with 40 countries, where a focus is expected on the Arab states’ proposed peace plan and Palestinian recognition.

Mr Martin said it was Ireland’s “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”.

“It is with a heavy heart that we watch those intent on imposing by force, a future based on violence, domination, subordination, and exclusion become some of the most prominent voices in Israel and Palestine today. We reject that future.”

Condemning the “savagery” of Hamas’ attack on October 7, he added: “It is important that our decision to recognise Palestine is not misrepresented as a hostile act towards the state of Israel.”

“Today’s decision is about the empowering of moderation within Palestine.

“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 that Ireland had learned the hard way that violence against civilians to achieve political aims “must never win”.

“Whether that be a car bomb on the streets of Omagh or Jerusalem; be that a rocket landing in Tel Aviv or a no-warning blast in a Birmingham pub; be that an assault on a kibbutz or a bomb dropped from a jet fighter onto a refugee camp or a Gaza hospital, it is all wrong.”

He added: “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.”