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‘Important step’ as Ireland recognises Palestinian state

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‘We recognise the state of Palestine’

Ireland has announced plans to officially recognise a Palestinian state.

It comes as the three leaders of the coalition government – Taoiseach Simon Harris, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan – held a press conference at Government buildings in Dublin on Wednesday morning.

Mr Harris said that it was an “important and historic day for Ireland and for Palestine”.

Israel have recalled their envoys to Ireland, claiming that Ireland’s decision will encourage terrorism and more instability.

Norway and Spain have also announced on Wednesday that they will recognise a Palestinian state.

Which countries recognise Palestinian state?

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Harris said that he was “confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks”.

He said that a two-state solution, whereby independent Israeli and Palestinian states exist side-by-side, was the “the only credible path to peace and security”.

Referencing the foundation of the Irish state, Mr Harris said “from our own history we know what it means, recognition is an act of powerful political and symbolic value”.

He said that the decision was taken “to offer hope and encouragement to the people of Palestine at one of their darkest hours”.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented assault on Israel on 7 October, with hundreds of gunmen infiltrating communities near the Gaza Strip.

About 1,200 people were killed, and more than 250 were taken to Gaza as hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

More than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza have so far been killed by the Israeli military in response, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says.

Reuters Israel KatzReuters

Israel Katz says Ireland’s decision “undermines the chance for peace”

Also on Wednesday morning, Israel announced it would recall its envoys to Ireland and Norway “for urgent consultations”.

“I am sending Ireland and Norway a clear message: Israel will not back down against those who undermine its sovereignty and endanger its security,” foreign minister Israel Katz said.

“Today’s decision sends a message to the Palestinians and the world: terrorism pays,” he said.

“After the Hamas terror organisation carried out the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, after committing heinous sexual crimes witnessed by the world, these countries chose to reward Hamas and Iran by recognizing a Palestinian state,” Mr Katz said.

“This distorted step by these countries is an injustice to the memory of the victims of 7/10, a blow to efforts to return the 128 hostages, and a boost to Hamas and Iran’s jihadists, which undermines the chance for peace and questions Israel’s right to self-defence.”

‘Turning point’

Hamas, which controls Gaza and is currently at war with Israel, said Wednesday’s announcements would be a “turning point in the international position on the Palestinian issue”.

In a statement to AFP, Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas figure, said the “brave resistance” of the Palestinian people was behind the move.

Hamas’s rival, the Palestinian Authority (PA) – which controls parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank – said Norway, Spain and Ireland had demonstrated their “unwavering commitment” to “delivering the long overdue justice to the Palestinian people.”

RTE Ireland's coalition leaders speaking from podiums outside government buildings in DublinRTE

Simon Harris says a two state solution is the only path to ending “violence retribution and resentment”

Addressing the “people of Israel”, Mr Harris said: “Ireland is resolute and unequivocal in recognising the state of Israel and Israel’s right to exist securely and in peace with its neighbours.”

“Let me be clear that Ireland condemns the barbaric massacre carried out by Hamas on 7 October last,” he said.

Mr Harris called for the release of hostages taken by Hamas “to the arms of their loved ones”, but added that “Hamas is not the Palestinian people”.

“A two state solution is the only way out of the generational cycles of violence retribution and resentment,” he said.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that Ireland’s decision was 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 added that the move was not “a hostile act towards the state of Israel”.

“We acknowledge the heartbreak, loss and anguish of the Israeli people,” he said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that Ireland had “learnt the hard way, that violence against innocent civilians to try and achieve political aims, can, and 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 the Kibbutz, or a bomb dropped from a jet fighter onto a refugee camp or a Gaza hospital, it is all wrong,” he said.

PA Ambassador of Israel to Ireland, Dana ErlichPA

The Ambassador of Israel to Ireland, Dana Erlich, said this ‘jeopardises any hope’ of hostage release

The Israeli embassy in Ireland has said that it views the 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,” it said in a statement.

‘Electioneering’

PA Ian PaisleyPA

DUP MP Ian Paisley said the Irish government’s move was an attempt to appeal to the “extreme elements in Irish society”.

In a statement, he said: “The announcement by the Dublin Prime Minister to recognise the State of Palestine – even though he could not identify that state accurately on a map – will unfortunately only play into the hands of extremist, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel factions.

“Ireland should brace itself for a run of abuse against people and businesses associated with Israel,” he continued.

“What is atrocious is that the announcement this morning did not have one word of condemnation of Hamas terrorism on 7 October.”

However, Taoiseach Simon Harris and Tánaiste Micheál Martin both condemned the “barbaric massacre” carried out by Hamas last October in their public statements.

Both leaders also called again for the release of all hostages in Gaza.

PA Mary Lou McDonaldPA

In a statement, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD said the recognition “must be the first step in the government playing a leading international role in assisting the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State”.

“The government must follow today’s announcement by utilising every tool at their disposal to hold Israel to account and to demand full adherence to international law,” she said.

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