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Ireland and Spain reiterate plan to form alliance to recognise state of Palestine

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Ireland and Spain have reiterated their intention to forge an alliance of countries that will soon recognise Palestine as a nation state.

The Irish taoiseach, Simon Harris, and Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, vowed on Friday to muster international support for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine.

The two leaders held bilateral talks in Dublin to inject momentum into a diplomatic offensive inside and outside the EU.

Recognition of Palestinian statehood “is coming much closer”, Harris told a joint press conference. Ireland would move with Spain and other countries “when the time is right”, he said, without giving a timeline or naming the other countries.

“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, in a region where people of all faiths and all traditions live together in peace.”

Sánchez said waiting for others to take the initiative was not acceptable, referring to war in Gaza and Ukraine. “The path is made by walking … we have to do so in the hope that others will do so.”

Dublin and Madrid will move in a coordinated way and raise Palestinian statehood at the European council next week, they said.

Earlier on Friday, Sánchez met Norway’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, in Oslo and reiterated Madrid’s intention to recognise a Palestinian state by July.

Støre said Norway also stood ready to recognise a Palestinian state. “The question is when and in what context,” he said. He welcomed the Spanish premier’s efforts to consult and coordinate with like-minded countries. “We will intensify that coordination in the weeks to come,” Støre said.

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Spain and Ireland have emerged as the most outspoken critics in the EU of Israel’s war in Gaza, which has claimed more than 33,000 lives, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The conflict erupted last October when Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,170 people and kidnapping hundreds.

The meeting between Harris and Sánchez came a day after they met at a summit in Warsaw, underling a desire to move in lockstep as they seek support from Malta, Slovenia, Belgium and other states.

Since succeeding Leo Varadkar as taoiseach on Tuesday, Harris has underscored Ireland’s continued support for Palestinian statehood and an immediate ceasefire. In a meeting on Thursday with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, he reiterated a formal joint request made with Spain two months ago to review the Israel-EU association agreement, which carries human rights obligations.

Harris expressed outrage at the fate of Israeli hostages but said the suffering of the people of Gaza was “unconscionable”. Earlier this week Israel sharply criticised Harris for not mentioning the hostages during his debut speech as taoiseach to the Irish parliament.

“The scenes that we’re seeing in Gaza in terms of hunger, thirst, mutilation, death of innocent children, women, men, the destruction of so much civilian infrastructure, hospitals, schools, homes, has to stop,” Harris said.

Spanish sources said the timetable to recognise statehood by summer may depend on the UN security council considering a similar resolution in July. There are also efforts in the EU parliament to establish a Europe-wide parliamentarian group to promote Palestinian statehood.

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