Northern Ireland

Ireland to formally recognise the state of Palestine, says Taoiseach Simon Harris

The announcement was made at a press conference in Dublin on Wednesday

Taoiseach Simon Harris speaking to the media during a press conference outside the Government Buildings, Dublin, as the Republic of Ireland recognised the state of Palestine.
Taoiseach Simon Harris speaking as the Republic recognised the state of Palestine. (Damien Storan/PA Wire)

Ireland is to formally recognise the state of Palestine, Taoiseach Simon Harris has said.

Making the announcement in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Harris said: “Today Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognise the state of Palestine.

“Each of us will now undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision.”

It came as the three leaders of the coalition government - Mr Harris, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan - held a press conference at Government buildings.

Simon Harris
Minister Eamon Ryan, Taoiseach Simon Harris and Tanaiste Micheal Martin speaking to the media during a press conference outside the Government Buildings, Dublin. PICTURE: DAMIEN STORAN/PA

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

“On January 21 1919, Ireland asked the world to recognise our rights to be an independent state,” he said.

“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.”

Currently, eight EU member states recognise Palestinian statehood, the most recent being Sweden in 2014.

The Republic’s deputy premier and foreign affairs minister, Micheál Martin, also told the press conference that “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 said.

He added: “This is very much about peace.”

Shortly before Mr Harris made the announcement, Israel recalled its ambassador in Ireland, accusing the country of undermining its sovereignty and endangering its security.

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

Israel has also warned Ireland that recognition would “fuel extremism and instability”.

In an online video targeted at Ireland, Israel’s foreign ministry warned that recognising a Palestinian state “will lead to more terrorism” and “jeopardise any prospects for peace”.

The narrator says: “Ireland, the possibility of recognising a Palestinian state risks turning you into a pawn in the hands of Iran and Hamas.

“Such a move will only strengthen Hamas and weaken an already dysfunctional Palestinian authority.

“The fact that Hamas leaders are thanking you should serve as a wake-up call.

“Your actions will only fuel extremism and instability.

“Progress can only be achieved through direct negotiations within a wider regional context.

“Don’t be pawns in the hands of Hamas. Say no to recognition.”