Ireland to Recognize Palestine Soon, Warns Israel’s Ambassador

Move expected for long time, but Dublin now in earnest due to new settlement expansion and law for expropriating Palestinian land, says official in Jerusalem.

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Enda Kenny, Ireland's prime minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Enda Kenny, Ireland's prime minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.Credit: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne and Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
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Barak Ravid

Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, Zeev Boker, cabled a warning to Jerusalem on Tuesday that the Irish government was soon likely to recognize Palestine as a state.

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An official in Jerusalem noted that Israel’s embassy in Dublin had assessed a while ago that official recognition of Palestine was coming, but in recent days, after Israel’s decision to expand settlement construction and passage of the law allowing the expropriation of private Palestinian land, this assessment has been reinforced.

The official noted that Boker proposed working now to block the move, both by asking the new U.S. administration to pressure Ireland to avoid recognizing Palestine and by having Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny to discuss the issue.

>> Explained: Israel's new Palestinian land-grab law and why it matters >>

In October 2014 the Swedish government officially recognized Palestine as a state, making Sweden the first Western European country to do so. Since then there has been a wave of parliamentary resolutions in various EU countries calling on governments to recognize Palestine, but no other country has.

In December 2014, the Irish parliament passed a declarative resolution calling on the government to recognize Palestine. A few weeks afterward Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan said Dublin was considering it. Ireland is considered one of the leading critics in Europe of Israel’s policies in the territories. Nevertheless, two years have passed and Ireland hasn’t taken this step.

In June 2016 Irish MP Darragh O’Brien submitted a resolution calling on Dublin to expedite the recognition of Palestine. In recent weeks O’Brien has intensified his actions in the Irish media and in parliament to bring the resolution to a vote.

Boker wrote to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem that O’Brien’s resolution could be still be voted on this month and that afterward it was almost certain the government would make such a move. Boker wrote that it was crucial to start making diplomat efforts now to scuttle Irish recognition of Palestine.

Europe’s sharp condemnations of the expropriation law continued yesterday, with Germany issuing an statement of unprecedented criticism in which it made clear it no longer believes the Netanyahu government is interested in the two-state solution.

Palestinian pressure

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on world nations to officially recognize the state of Palestinian as soon as possible to help save the two-state solution.

Abbas, speaking from Paris, told members of the French parliament that the two-state solution requires countries who recognize Israel to also recognize Palestine.

Dozens of countries recognized Palestinian statehood years ago and recently Palestine was also recognized by the Vatican. Most West European and North American countries never did do, although most of their lawmakers had supported recognizing Palestine within the 1967 borders.

"The step we, and especially President Abu Mazen, are taking now could rescue the two-state solution from the results of Netanyahu's and his government's conduct, which is destroying any chance of reaching a solution. Our international effort is intended to bring about a just and viable solution for Israelis in the absence of a real leadership striving for peace," Dr. Husam Zumlut, a strategic adviser to Abbas, told Haaretz.

"Recognition of Palestinian statehood first rose to the agenda in 1988 and gained a push in 2011 following the Palestinians' appeal to the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly.

"For now there is intent to appeal to all countries that have not yet recognized Palestine, to do so as a response to Israel and the Netanyahu government's conduct and there is no doubt that France is at the focus at this stage due to its position and strength in the European arena," Zumlut said.

Palestinians began stepping up diplomatic pressure of France on the issue of recognition in wake of Israel's passing into law legislation that under some circumstances legalizes the presence of West Bank Jewish settlements constructed on privately owned Palestinian land. France hosted an international peace summit last month.

"France is an important and central nation in Europe and thus it is important that it leads such an initiative, like other countries have [done in the past]. Recognizing a Palestinian state is not good just for the Palestinians, but will also save peace," a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz.

After meeting Abbas on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande called on Israel to repeal the law. Speaking at the end of their meeting, Abbas said the new law creates an apartheid regime in the occupied territories that the international community should act to reverse.

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