Sanctions against Israel not ‘off the table’, Irish premier says

Sanctions on Israel should not be “off the table”, the Irish premier has said as he accused the nation’s officials of ignoring international courts.

It comes after an attack on Rafah in which dozens of people were killed at a camp for displaced people.

It followed a Hamas rocket attack on Tel Aviv.

Last week, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah.

Ireland, Norway and Spain will formally recognise Palestinian statehood on Tuesday.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Brussels, Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin said the move was in search of a “fundamental paradigm shift” between a peaceful two-state solution to the conflict.

He added: “Some have framed our decision to recognise the state of Palestine as a move to impose an outcome on the parties or as somehow a reward for terror.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. We have recognised both the State of Israel and the state of Palestine precisely because we want to see a future of normalised relations between the two peoples.”

Mr Martin said there can be no military solution to the conflict as he criticised any group using violence or terrorism to eliminate the state of Israel or Palestine.

He said: “I condemn the violence of yesterday. The rockets that were struck at Tel Aviv and the heinous attack on the Rafah tent refugee camp where innocent children and civilians were killed.”

He added: “What we witnessed last night is barbaric. Gaza is a very small enclave, densely populated conurbation.

“One cannot bomb an area like that without shocking consequences in terms of innocent children and civilians.”

European Parliament election
Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Martin, the Irish foreign affairs minister, called for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages.

Elsewhere, Irish premier Simon Harris condemned the attack in Rafah as “absolutely unimaginable and unconscionable”.

He said: “Overnight we have seen Israel attack a displaced person centre, a place where parents were told to flee with their children, and they bombed it.”

Mr Harris defended Ireland’s decision to recognise Palestine as a state.

He added: “We did recognition not to be pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli but to be pro-peace.

“You cannot have a two-state solution if you don’t recognise the existence of two states and we hope by moving with Norway and Spain to create some momentum there to keep that alive, that hope, that destination at a time when others are trying to bomb it into oblivion.”

He told Ireland AM: “In relation to sanctions, I don’t think anything can be off the table when it comes to Israel, particularly with what we’re seeing currently happening in Rafah now, when we’re seeing the international community being ignored, when we’re seeing international courts being ignored.”

Mr Harris said Ireland would intensify its calls for trade arrangements between Israel and the EU to be “reviewed”.