Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Irish taoiseach and Spanish PM to discuss Palestine nation state plan

Must read

The new Irish taoiseach is to meet the Spanish prime minister to discuss their joint plan to recognise Palestine as a nation state and their attempts to force the EU to assess Israel’s human rights obligations as a condition of their trade deal with the bloc.

Pedro Sánchez, who is due to arrive in Dublin on Friday, is the first foreign premier Simon Harris will meet since his promotion to the office of the taoiseach this week.

In the months since the Hamas attacks of 7 October and Israel’s offensive in Gaza, Spain and Ireland have emerged as the EU’s most pro-Palestinian member states.

On Thursday in Brussels, Harris said he had made clear Ireland’s position on the need for an immediate ceasefire, during a meeting with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. He also reiterated its formal request, made with Spain two months ago, to review the Israel-EU association agreement.

“I believe the European Union must use all of the levers at its disposal [to protect the Palestinian people],” Harris said.

His remarks came as he faced sharp criticism from Israel for not mentioning the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza during his debut speech to the Irish parliament as taoiseach.

Harris – who was sworn in on Tuesday – spoke on Tuesday of “the unforgivable terrorist actions of Hamas on 7 October”, as well as “the disproportionate reaction of the Israeli government”.

But Israel’s foreign ministry, in a statement released on Thursday, criticised him for neglecting to mention the hostages still being held by Hamas.

It said Ireland was also “planning to award additional prizes to terrorism” by intervening in the case taken by South Africa at the international court of justice in which it accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, and by “the possible recognition of a Palestinian state in the future”.

“After the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust … there are those in Ireland who persist on being on the wrong side of history,” the statement added, alluding to the Hamas attacks on southern Israel, which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Since then, Israel’s military offensive has killed more than 33,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, and created an acute humanitarian crisis.

Ireland and Spain have written a letter to the European Commission chief asking for an “urgent review” of whether Israel is complying with its human rights obligations. Neither country has had a response yet, indicating the sensitivity of the issue.

On Thursday, Harris said Sánchez was a welcome guest to Dublin. “He’ll be the first head of government that I will welcome to government buildings, and I look forward to having the opportunity to discussing with Pedro the issue of the recognition of the state of Palestine and broader matters, including that letter,” he said.

Harris said Von der Leyen pointed out there was an opportunity at the next summit of EU foreign ministers “to discuss and consider these matters”, indicating a review was in the works.

“This is not about anything other than ensuring that international human rights law is respected. And that it is followed,” he said.

Latest article