Irish parliament calls on government to recognize Palestine

Center-right MP accuses Israel of having erected ‘apartheid regime’; Upper House then passes her resolution without a vote

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Irish Senator Averil Power speaking in the Senate in Dublin, October 22, 2014 (photo credit: screen grab YouTube)
Irish Senator Averil Power speaking in the Senate in Dublin, October 22, 2014 (photo credit: screen grab YouTube)

The Upper House of Ireland’s parliament on Wednesday passed a motion calling on the government to recognize a Palestinian state, making it the third European country in less than a month to throw its weight behind Ramallah’s unilateral statehood bid.

The motion, proposed by a senator from the country’s main opposition party, was passed without a vote, as it had received backing from a majority of lawmakers before the discussion.

The motion that was passed read: “Seanad Éireann [the Senate of Ireland] calls on the Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine and do everything it can at the international level to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Ireland was the first European country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization and has traditionally been one of Israel’s bitterest critics in the EU.

The move follows similar moves in other European capitals.

After the new Swedish government declared it would recognize a Palestinian state earlier this month, and the British House of Commons voted in favor of a non-binding resolution calling on London to do the same, it was seen as a matter of time until lawmakers in Dublin followed suit.

Last week, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party submitted a proposal to the Spanish Congress to recognize Palestine, but no vote has yet been scheduled.

“By joining Sweden and other EU states in recognizing Palestine, we will make it clear that statehood is a right of the Palestinian people. It is not an Israeli bargaining chip for them to play in their sham negotiations,” said Irish Senator Averil Power, from the center-right Fianna Fáil (Republican Party), who proposed the motion. “In doing so we will create pressure on Israel to pursue a genuine peace process that has a real prospect of delivering peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The government parties agreed to the motion “without us actually having to push it to a vote,” Power said, adding that she hopes they will do the same in the Dáil Éireann, Dublin’s more powerful Lower House, and that eventually the government will follow suit.

In a speech to the Seanad Wednesday, Power accused Israel of having implemented an “apartheid regime in the West Bank that denied Palestinians basic human rights that their Israeli counterparts take for granted.” Without wider recognition of the State of Palestine, Palestinian representatives are in a weaker position at the negotiation table, she said.

“Colleagues, 20 years on from the Oslo Accords, the prospects of achieving a two-state solution seem more remote than ever. And the reason for this is that Israel has done everything it can to undermine the chances of such an outcome. While pretending to talk peace, it has continuously intensified its illegal occupation of Palestine.”

By Wednesday night, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem had not yet responded to the Irish move.

The Israeli embassy in Dublin tweeted its disapproval:

“Today, a Palestinian man murdered a 3 month old (!) Jewish baby in Jerusalem [a]nd yesterday the Irish Seanad has passed a motion calling on the Government to recognise the state of Palestine without direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” the statement read. “Just imagine if any country would have recognized a final status in favor of one of the sides in the conflict in Northern Ireland before the peace process started in Belfast and a parity of esteem had been agreed upon.”

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