Ireland says moving closer to recognising Palestinian state

Padraic Halpin

(Reuters) – Ireland is close to formally recognising a Palestinian state and would like to do so in concert with Spain and other like-minded countries, new prime minister Simon Harris said on Friday after meeting his Spanish counterpart.

Spain and Ireland, long champions of Palestinian rights, last month announced alongside Malta and Slovenia that they would jointly work toward the recognition of a Palestinian state. The efforts come as a mounting death toll in Gaza from Israel’s offensive to rout out Hamas prompts calls globally for a ceasefire and lasting solution for peace in the region.

“Let me this evening say our assessment is that that point is coming much closer and we would like to move together in doing so,” Harris said after meeting Sanchez, the first premier to visit Dublin since Harris became prime minister this week.

“When we move forward, we would like to do so with as many others as possible to lend weight to the decision and to send the strongest message. The people of Israel deserve a secure and peaceful future, so do the people of Palestine. Equal sovereignty, equal respect.”

Israel told the four EU countries that committed to moving towards Palestinian recognition that their initiative would amount to a “prize for terrorism” that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the generations-old conflict.

The meeting with Harris was part of a number Sanchez planned this week with EU counterparts to try to garner support for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Sanchez said following a meeting in Oslo with his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store earlier on Friday that there were “clear signs” in Europe that countries in the region were prepared to recognise a Palestinian state.

Sanchez has previously said he expects Madrid to extend recognition to Palestinians by July.

Harris said Dublin would continue discussions with other like-minded countries in Europe and beyond, including at next week’s meeting of EU leaders.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said earlier this week that he was preparing to bring a formal proposal to government on the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Since 1988, 139 out of 193 United Nations member states have recognised Palestinian statehood.