The Programme for Government states that Ireland will “honour our commitment to recognise the State of Palestine as part of a lasting settlement of the conflict.” Successive Governments have seen recognition coming in the context of an overall peace agreement.
However, in the context of widespread frustration at the lack of political progress towards an agreement, and not least in light of the views expressed by the Dáil and the Seanad in 2014, we have discussed here in the Oireachtas on a number of occasions the question of whether the formal recognition of Palestine, in advance of its full achievement on the ground, would be a helpful step in advancing a resolution of the Israel- Palestine conflict.
I have also regularly discussed the issue with EU partners and with leaders in the region, including with President Abbas during his visit to Ireland in September of last year.
One of the many factors bearing on this question is the importance of assessing whether recognition now would positively affect the peace process or merely be viewed as a symbolic gesture, swiftly overtaken and surpassed by events on the ground. Recognition by Ireland will also undoubtedly affect Ireland’s ongoing influence on the Middle East Peace Process at EU and international level, and it is imperative that it does not diminish Ireland’s impact without delivering a commensurate benefit for the Palestinian people.
I have stated that I will be ready to recommend immediate recognition of the State of Palestine to the Government, if and when I believe it would be helpful in achieving our objective of a free and sovereign Palestinian State, or advancing the peace process in that direction. I have not yet concluded that it would be helpful at this time, but situations change, and I keep this matter under continuous and active review.
Annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law, including the UN Charter. The EU has reiterated, on numerous occasions, that it will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. With regard to the comments which Prime Minister Netanyahu made last week about the Jordan Valley, I would not usually comment on what is said in the course of an election campaign. However, due to the gravity of the issue in this case, I felt it was important to make my views known. I also directed my officials to speak to the Israeli Ambassador and to request that he convey Ireland’s position directly to his authorities. Ireland and the EU will monitor closely the actions of the next Israeli Government.
Ireland remains fully committed to the resolution of the Middle East conflict, through an agreed settlement which includes the establishment of a sovereign State of Palestine recognized by all, living side by side in peace with the State of Israel, bringing to an end to the occupation that began in 1967. All of my actions on this issue are taken in pursuit of that objective.