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Martin to hold briefing with EU counterparts on Palestine

Tánaiste Micheál Martin will hold a joint news conference with his Spanish and Norwegian counterparts in Brussels this morning ahead of tomorrow’s recognition by the three governments of the state of Palestine.

Last night, Mr Martin joined representatives from 40 countries for a meeting in Brussels hosted by Norway and Saudi Arabia on reviving the Middle East peace process.

He held bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of Egypt and Bahrain, as well as the Palestinian foreign minister on the margins of the meeting.

The recognition issue is also likely to be raised at today’s meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Mr Martin is expected to address his EU colleagues on Ireland’s decision, and the Government is hopeful that other countries will now follow suit, although it is not yet clear which member states, and when.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has invited Arab prime ministers to the meeting to discuss the Arab Peace Initiative, which is closely linked to the recognition issue.

Last week was a turbulent one for Israel and the Middle East, with a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court on Monday requesting arrest warrants for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister, along with three senior Hamas figures.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its military operation in Rafah on the basis that it put at risk the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide convention.

The move to jointly recognise a Palestinan state drew a furious response from the Israeli government and has led to an escalating diplomatic row between Dublin and Jerusalem.

Irish Ambassador to Israel Sonya McGuinness was summoned to the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry in Jerusalem on Friday and reprimanded.

The ambassadors of Spain and Norway attended the same meeting for the same reason.

Before any discussions, they were shown a previously unaired video of Hamas taking female army conscripts captive on 7 October last year.

It is understood the Irish Government was disappointed at this, on the basis that it fell below the established procedures and practices regarding diplomatic engagement.

What is believed to have been a “forthright exchange of views” then took place at the meeting between both sides. Despite speculation in the media, Israeli officials did not announce that any restrictions would be placed on the Irish, Spanish and Norwegian diplomatic missions.

After the diplomatic demarche, an Israeli government spokesperson asserted that: “A recognition of a Palestinian state does not promote peace. It perpetuates war.”

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