Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ireland to Consider Recognizing Palestine


By Ruairi Henchy - November 10, 2014
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [European Union] [European Council on Foreign Relations] [Statehood ]

In the wake of Sweden’s recent decision to formally recognize the independent state of Palestine and the decision of the British House of Commons to pass a non-binding resolution to the same effect, Ireland may be moving towards a similar change in position. The upper house of the Irish Parliament recently passed a motion calling on the government to formally recognize the State of Palestine. The Irish senate has very limited powers, so this motion was a largely symbolic one, but remarks made in the lower house of parliament (Dáil Éireann) by Prime Minister Enda Kenny last week suggest a formal recognition, akin to that of Sweden’s, may not be too far away.

In parliamentary debate on Tuesday 4 November, the prime minister took questions relating to his trip to Lebanon in June of this year. He took questions from the opposition on the Irish troops serving with UNIFIL in southern Lebanon and in the Golan Heights, in addition to the situation with ISIS in Kobane. He was mostly, however, pressed by the opposition on the situation in Gaza and the Israel-Palestine peace process in general. The leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, specifically asked Mr. Kenny if he would consider following the example of the Swedish government in recognizing Palestine. Adams pressed further, asking if the prime minister would upgrade the Palestinian mission to Ireland, affording it the full immunities and facilities as other diplomatic missions under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations.

Ireland does have diplomatic relations with Palestine at present, with a representative office in Ramallah and a Palestinian mission in Dublin. When it comes to full recognition, however, the Irish Government has always taken the position that this must come as part of a peace agreement and in tandem with other European Union countries. Yet, Sweden’s recent decision to break from this consensus might encourage a similar change in approach in Dublin, according to Mr. Kenny’s remarks on Tuesday:

“…the Seanad [Senate] passed a motion calling on the Government to formally recognise the state of Palestine and do everything it could at an international level to help to secure a viable two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Deputies Gerry Adams and Micheál Martin will be aware that the House of Commons in the United Kingdom adopted a similar non-binding motion earlier in the month. Sweden has taken a different view. Deputies will be aware that for many years Ireland has supported the full achievement of a Palestinian state and that there was always a belief this might actually happen and might happen soon…. As the Deputies are aware, it was always the position that the formal recognition of a Palestinian state should come about as part of a comprehensive peace agreement… It was also expected until now that the question of recognition of the Palestinian state would be subject to a common decision by the European Union, but Sweden took a different view and recognised Palestine… Sweden's decision may well alter the situation at a European level. I am quite sure it will be reflected in discussions at the Foreign Affairs Council as a consequence and will arrive on the table at the European Council through that method… In view of the decision made by Sweden, while it was always contemplated that Europe would react to Palestine, we need to reflect on the changed consequences... I will discuss the matter with the Minister [for Foreign Affairs and Trade], Deputy Charles Flanagan… We will discuss this issue and reflect on the consequences of the decision made by Sweden and how it will impact on Europe's decision and view of the recognition of a Palestinian state.”

At the very least these remarks signal that the issue of formal recognition of a Palestinian state is to soon come under discussion at the highest level of the European Union. On the other hand, this shift in thinking from the Irish government could be indicative of a wider trend, whereby individual European states may decide to go it alone in their recognition of Palestine following the precedent set by Sweden.

 

 

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