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Home / News / Abbas thanks Taoiseach after Palestinian statehood move

Abbas thanks Taoiseach after Palestinian statehood move

The Irish, Spanish and Norwegian ambassadors to Israel are to be reprimanded after the three countries announced that they would recognise a Palestinian state, the Israeli foreign ministry has said.

Israel has reacted with fury following the announcements by the Irish, Spanish and Norwegian leaders this morning, which came more than seven months into the devastating Gaza war.

The three countries said they would formally recognise the State of Palestine on 28 May.

Taoiseach Simon Harris announced the recognition flanked by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

This evening, Mr Harris spoke to President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

The Taoiseach told Mr Abbas that he, on behalf of the people of Ireland, was recognising Palestine to keep the hopes of a two state peace solution between Israel and Palestine alive.

President Abbas said that Ireland’s recognition of the state of Palestine was a beacon of hope to the Palestinian people, thanking the three countries.

Mr Harris told him that Hamas is a brutal terrorist organisation and he utterly condemned the barbaric attack on Israel on 7 October.

Mr Abbas said he seconded the Taoiseach’s statement that Israel had the right to exist in peace and security with its neighbours.

The two spoke about hopes for a lasting ceasefire and an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

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Earlier, Mr Harris outlined the reasons for the declaration and what he hoped it would achieve.
“Today Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognise the state of Palestine,” said Mr Harris.

“Each of us will now undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision.”

Mr Harris said he was confident other countries would now follow the move taken by Ireland, Spain and Norway in the coming weeks.

“This is an historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine,” he added.

“On 21 January 1919, Ireland asked the world to recognise our rights to be an independent state. Our message to the free nations of the world was a plea for international recognition of our independence, emphasising our distinct national identity, our historical struggle, and our rights to self-determination and justice.

“Today, we use the same language to support the recognition of Palestine as a state.”

The White House said that President Joe Biden opposes “unilateral recognition” of a Palestinian state, after moves by Ireland, Spain and Norway.

Mr Biden “believes a Palestinian state should be realized through direct negotiations between the parties, not through unilateral recognition,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told RTÉ News: “The President is a strong supporter of a two state solution and has been throughout his career.

Ireland recognising a state ‘without any due process’

Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich, said she was disappointed by today’s announcement and the decision on recognition, which she said followed “worrying initiatives and statement in recent months”.

Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, she said the fact that Hamas and Iran welcomed the step is a sign that it is considered a “prize for terrorism”.

Ms Erlich said Ireland was recognising a state “without any due process”. She said there are no formal institutions that control all of this “so-called state”.

“How does this benefit the people of Gaza, and why now, in the midst of a war that Hamas launched not just on Israelis but the abuse that they are holding against their own population?

She described the idea that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be subjected to an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court as “absurd”.

“We have been working tirelessly to make sure that aid goes in, we have scaled up operations to make sure that there are no limits on the aid going in.

Dana Erlich said the move was a ‘prize for terrorism’

“We know that there are problems with the distribution of aid within Gaza, and that is also the responsibility of UN agencies.”

Ms Erlich said she is being recalled for consultations to discuss the next steps and the future of her relations with Ireland. She said the condemnation of Hamas is missing from the conversation in Ireland.

“The condemnation is welcomed on the authorities of 7 October, but we need to remember that Hamas atrocities did not stop on 7 October, they only started.”

Israel strongly opposes the move, arguing that it amounts to “rewarding terrorism” after the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched its unprecedented 7 October attack on Israel which sparked the bloodiest ever Gaza war.

In response to the announcements, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz ordered the immediate return of the Israeli ambassadors to the three countries for consultations and warned of further “severe consequences”.

“I am sending a clear message today: Israel will not be complacent against those who undermine its sovereignty and endanger its security,” he said.

Israel’s foreign ministry also said it would reprimand the Irish, Spanish and Norwegian ambassadors in the country and show them a video of female hostages being held in captivity by Hamas.

Most Western governments including the United States say they are willing to one day recognise Palestinian statehood – but not before agreement is reached on thorny issues like its final borders and the status of Jerusalem.

However, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez charged that his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign of “pain and destruction” in Gaza was now putting the two-state solution in “danger”.

From left, Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan, Taoiseach Simon Harris and Tánaiste Micheál Martin

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said “recognition of Palestine is a means of supporting the moderate forces which have been losing ground in this protracted and brutal conflict”.

“In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Two states, living side by side, in peace and security.”

According to the Palestinian Authority – which rules parts of the occupied West Bank – 142 of the 193 UN member countries already recognise a Palestinian state.

A senior Hamas figure, Bassem Naim, hailed the three European governments for their decisions.

“These successive recognitions are the direct result of this brave resistance and the legendary steadfastness of the Palestinian people,” he told AFP.

“We believe this will be a turning point in the international position on the Palestinian issue.”

Rafah in southern Gaza

Heavy battles

Hamas’s attack on 7 October resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The militants also took 252 hostages, 124 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,647 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Israel also imposed a siege that has deprived Gaza’s 2.4 million people of most water, food, medical supplies and fuel, and brought much of the population to the brink of famine.

Heavy fighting has raged around Gaza’s far southern city of Rafah, the last part of Gaza to face a ground invasion, where an AFP team reported more air and artillery strikes early today.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Egypt to do everything it can to make sure humanitarian aid is flowing into Gaza as food and medicine bound for the strip piles up on the Egyptian side.

Mr Blinken told a hearing in the House of Representatives that the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza remained closed after Israel’s military seized it on 7 May.

Fighting near the crossing has made providing assistance challenging, but aid could still be getting through, Mr Blinken said, an apparent reference to the Kerem Shalom crossing near Rafah that has been open.

“So we need to find a way to make sure that the assistance that would go through Rafah can get through safely, but we do strongly urge our Egyptian partners to do everything that they can on their end of things to make sure that assistance is flowing,” Mr Blinken said.

Egyptian security sources say Egypt opposes Israel’s presence at the Rafah crossing and wants it to withdraw.

Global pushback

Heavy fighting has also rocked the other major Palestinian territory, the occupied West Bank, where an Israeli raid entered its second day in the city of Jenin.

Explosions and gunfire were heard from inside the Jenin refugee camp, an AFP correspondent said, after eight Palestinians were killed yesterday.

Amid the carnage of the Gaza war, Israel has faced growing international opposition to its devastating military campaign and siege.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said Monday he had applied for arrest warrants for top leaders of Israel and Hamas over war crimes allegedly committed during and after the 7 October attacks.

The warrant request targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas’s Qatar-based leader Ismail Haniyeh and its Gaza political and military chiefs, Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif.

US President Joe Biden backed Mr Netanyahu in condemning the warrant request against Israeli leaders as “outrageous”.

If granted by the ICC judges, the warrants would mean that any of the 124 ICC member states would be required to arrest Mr Netanyahu and the others if they travelled there, although the court has no mechanism to enforce its orders.

Live: Updates as they happen

Additional reporting Paul Cunningham

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