Irish recognition of Palestinian state widely welcomed as Israel warns it is reward for Hamas

Foreign minister Yisrael Katz describes move, done alongside Norway and Spain, as ‘parade of stupidity’ and warns of ‘dire consequences’

The Government’s decision to officially recognise the state of Palestine on Wednesday was widely welcomed by many civil society groups, Opposition parties and supporters of Palestine.

However, Israel and its supporters fiercely criticised the move, with its government warning that it was a reward for Hamas and would have diplomatic consequences.

The Israeli response is expected to be discussed in the coming days when ambassador Dana Erlich returns to Jerusalem for consultations with the foreign ministry there. It is understood that options which include restricting access for Irish NGOs to the West Bank, and to Gaza after the conflict, will be on the table.

Israeli foreign minister Yisrael Katz described the move as “a parade of stupidity” and said that its message was “terrorism pays”. He warned of “dire 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.

But Palestinian representatives hailed the move.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah – which controls the West Bank part of Palestinian territory, but not the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas – spoke to Taoiseach Simon Harris in a telephone call and told him that the recognition was “a beacon of hope to the Palestinian people”, in an account supplied by Government Buildings in Dublin.

Mr Harris told Mr Abbas that the move was intended to keep the hopes of a two-state peace solution between Israel and Palestine alive.

Mr Harris told Mr Abbas that Hamas is a brutal terrorist organisation and he utterly condemned the barbaric attack on Israel on October 7th last, officials said.

Announcing the decision on Wednesday morning at Government Buildings, Mr Harris compared the efforts to secure recognition of Palestinian statehood to similar efforts by the fledgling independent Irish State a century ago to gain international recognition.

“Taking our place on the world stage – and being recognised by others as having the right to be there – was a matter of the highest importance for the founders of our State,” he said.

“Recognition is an act of powerful political and symbolic value. It is an expression of our view that Palestine holds and should be able to vindicate the full rights of a state – including self-determination, self-governance, territorial integrity and security – as well as recognising Palestine’s own obligations under international law.”

In Norway, the prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre made a similar announcement while the Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez told the Spanish Parliament also framed the move as an attempt to bolster a two-state solution. But also suggested it was a response to the Israeli assault on Gaza.

“It’s time to move from words to action,” Mr Sanchez said, “to tell millions of innocent Palestinians who are suffering that we are with them, that there is hope.”

Officials in Dublin said that it is hoped that more European countries will soon make a similar move. More than 140 countries already recognise a Palestinian state, but most EU countries, and the United States, do not.

In Washington, the White House voiced disapproval, but did not condemn the move outright. US president Joe Biden “believes a Palestinian state should be realised through direct negotiations between the parties, not through unilateral recognition”, a spokeswoman said.

The announcement, which had been repeatedly flagged in recent weeks, was praised throughout the Arab world.

A senior Hamas figure, Bassem Naim, also endorsed the move.

“These successive recognitions are the direct result of this brave resistance and the legendary steadfastness of the Palestinian people,” he told AFP, a response expected by Irish officials, they said.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times