Friday, May 24, 2024

Ireland’s inexplicable delay in recognising Palestinian statehood – Gript

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We’ll begin this article with a brief roundup of the political positions of Irish political parties on the question of whether to recognise the territories commonly called “Palestine” as a separate and distinct independent country to Israel:

Every political party in the Dáil, including all three Government parties support it. It is Government policy. There is no meaningful domestic opposition to it, unless yours truly counts, and I’m not sure I do.

There endeth the roundup.

Despite this, for reasons that are entirely unknown, Ireland has not recognised the State of Palestine, and our leaders, in the midst of various domestic crises mostly of their own making, are devoting a considerable amount of time to making their way around the European continent urging other countries to join Ireland in recognising the State of Palestine. The latest word is that this may or may not happen, in some form, on May 21st.

Let’s just remind ourselves of a basic fact:

Ireland is a sovereign, independent state. Our Government is free to recognise or not recognise any other Government that it so chooses. If Ireland wishes to recognise the State of Palestine, it can do so tomorrow, regardless of what the Spanish or the Maltese or the Slovenians decide to do.

Despite this, Ireland is determined to be joined in said recognition by at least a few other EU states. This, presumably, is to spread the wrath of the Americans around a bit, should Uncle Sam be displeased by this development (which is an open question, given that Joe Biden’s current two-state solution seems to be to make sure he appeases Muslim voters in the states of Michigan and Minnesota ahead of his coming troubled November).

The Irish media, of course, is enthralled by these developments, tracking the diplomatic flights around Europe as if they were the precursor to the formation of a new league of nations. So enthralled are our journalistic colleagues that they seem relatively uninterested in asking a few basic questions:

The most obvious of these is why Ireland cannot simply declare that it recognises Palestine all by itself?

The second most obvious is who, exactly, Ireland intends to recognise as the legitimate Government of the Palestinian state? Presumably the answer to this is “The Palestinian Liberation Organisation”, or PLO, which presently governs the west bank but whose representatives would be predictably assassinated by Hamas were they to set foot in Gaza. Indeed, hundreds of PLO members were slaughtered by Hamas in Gaza when it took power in the strip 2007.

The PLO has not held an election in the areas it controls since 2004, for the simple reason that it fears it might lose the rest of Palestine to Hamas if Palestinians were actually allowed to vote.

This raises another interesting question: Is Irish recognition of Palestinian statehood conditional on Hamas – an internationally recognised terrorist group sanctioned globally – not being the Government of Palestine? What would happen, for example, to Palestinian recognition if elections were to occur, and Hamas were to win them?

The European Union – of which Ireland is as we all know a proud member – presently considers Hamas a terrorist organisation. Hamas is sanctioned by the European Union. This poses interesting questions about Irish relationships with a Palestinian state in which Hamas achieved its goal of becoming the elected (or by other means takes power) Government. In such circumstances, the Irish state, having recognised the Government of Palestine, might find itself having to impose sanctions on Palestine as a state.

That, my friends, would be terrible. And yet also a little amusing.

Anyway, back to more present problems: If, as most observers expect, the Irish Government proposes to recognise the PLO as the legitimate Government of Palestine, what then is the status of the Gaza strip which renounces and rejects the legitimacy of the PLO? Is it a territory in rebellion against its legitimate Government? Are we as Irish people really to recognise as the spokespersons for Gaza an organisation that Gazans themselves have repeatedly rejected? It’s the functional equivalent of Israel recognising Mattie McGrath as the legitimate Government of Ireland: You can speak to him and recognise an ambassador from Tipperary. But you’re only pretending if you think he’s the actual Government.

These problems, I might add, are the reason why at least one senior EU diplomat in Dublin regards the Irish initiative as, and I quote, an “insane scheme that has the rest of Europe scratching its head”.

Of course, dear reader, you and I know something our diplomatic friend doesn’t: That the Irish Government doesn’t care about any of this, and that recognition of Palestine is much more about our lads playing Billy Big Balls on the global stage than it is about accruing any meaningful status for the Palestinians. After all, Sweden – a larger and more powerful country than Ireland – already recognises Palestine. For all the good that has done Palestinians.

Ultimately, Irish impact on Israeli policy is zero. All of this might matter if Ireland was Israel’s neighbour – Jordan, or Syria, or Israel – and could offer the Palestinians something other than “solidarity”. But we aren’t, and we can’t, and anyway there’s always been more votes in Ireland for “solidarity” than there have been for actually doing anything.

It’s just funny, and entirely stupid, that they’re taking so long to make a dumb mistake that they are determined to make, but could make tomorrow all by themselves.

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