Irish Upper House Backs Palestinian State

Seanad recognizes Palestine in nonbinding resolution, following British parliament's vote last week.

Pro-Palestinian march in Dublin during Gaza war, July 19, 2014.
People take part in a protest march through Dublin city center to call for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza and "justice and freedom" for Palestine, Sat., July 19, 2014. AP

The upper house of the Irish parliament joined the recent trend of passing a motion calling on its government to recognize a Palestinian state.

Averil Power
You Tube screen grab

The British passed a similar, non-binding motion last week. The upper house, known as the Seanad, has limited power. The lower house, known as the Dail Eareann, is Ireland's principal legislative chamber.

The motion, tabled by opposition senator Averil Power, stated, "Seanad Eireann calls on the government to formally recognize 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."

31 of 60 members of the upper house, known as the Seanad, signed the motion last week, according to Ireland's The Journal.

Ireland should "make it clear that statehood is a right of the Palestinian people and not a bargaining chip for the Israelis to play in further sham negotiations," said Power, according to AFP. "In doing so, we will help increase 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."

Israel's ambassador to Ireland, Boaz Modai, dismissed the motion even before it went to a vote, AFP reported.

"Stunt gestures such as recognizing 'Palestine' unilaterally are counter-productive because they only give excuses to those on the Palestinian side who hope to achieve their goals without talking directly to Israel," the embassy said in a statement.

However, Power told The Journal after the vote, “The more countries that recognize the State of Palestine, the greater the pressure on Israel to end its illegal occupation and agree to a long-term peace agreement in the region."

Sweden is the only sitting European Union to have voted officially to recognize a Palestinian state. Hungary, Poland and Slovakia all voted to recognize Palestine before joining the EU.