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Ireland vows to recognise Palestinian state by end of May

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Ireland will recognise Palestinian statehood before the end of this month, Simon Harris, Ireland’s premier, has insisted.

Mr Harris made the comments following reports of a diplomatic row with Isaac Herzog, Israeli president, over the Irish plan.

He spoke by phone with Mr Herzog on Friday where he set out Ireland’s desire to see an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as well as “urgent and unhindered access” for humanitarian aid.

RTE reported that sources close to the Israeli president said he warned Mr Harris that unilateral recognition of Palestine could jeopardise any hope of Hamas releasing the hostages it continues to hold in Gaza and encourage further attacks on Israel.

However, Mr Harris said the action would not be unilateral and that he was not interested in getting involved in a “back and forth” with Mr Herzog.

He was speaking in County Longford following the National Famine Commemoration event.

‘Immediate cessation of violence’

Asked what had transpired in the call with Mr Herzog, Mr Harris said: “I have less than zero interest in getting involved in some sort of back and forth between myself and the president of Israel.

“I had a good conversation with the president of Israel. We had a firm and respectful conversation.

“It is my job as the taoiseach of this country to speak up for the Irish position, to speak out on behalf of the people of Ireland.

“The Irish position in relation to the Middle East, in relation to Gaza, in relation to Israel is very straightforward and very consistent.

“We need to see an immediate cessation of violence, we need to see unimpeded and unhindered access to humanitarian aid because there is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in front of our eyes.

“We need to see a two-state solution. In order to see a two-state solution and to help bring one about you have to recognise the very existence of two states.

“In the coming days Ireland intends to do just that.”

‘It’s not unilateral’

Mr Harris was asked whether the move could lead to the severing of diplomatic ties between Ireland and Israel.

He said: “It is not unilateral, Ireland is working with a number of like-minded countries in relation to this. I expect more to move in the coming days, I expect more to move in the coming weeks.

“Certainly Ireland doesn’t wish to sever diplomatic relations. You can strongly disagree with a country, you can differentiate between the government of a country and the people of a country.

“I believe there are many people in Israel, as well as many people in Palestine, who want to live in peace, want to live in security, want to live in prosperity, want their children to be able to access food.

“Obviously we have a very different position to Israel in relation to this but a two-state solution is, in my view, in the view of Ireland and, I believe, in the view of many people for many years the way you bring about peace, stability, prosperity in the region.”

Mr Harris said the date for the recognition of Palestine as a state had yet to be decided.

He added: “There is important sequencing that our country and other countries have to carry out. I mean political processes that have to be followed and they differ slightly from country to country.

“The specific date will be decided in the coming days.

“What I can tell you is that it is absolutely our intention to recognise the state of Palestine this month and there is not that long left in this month.”

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