Coveney invites Abbas to Ireland during visit to West Bank

Tánaiste meets Palestinian president on final day of Middle East visit

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the president’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Photograph: Majdi Mohammed/AP

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the president’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Photograph: Majdi Mohammed/AP

 

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has invited Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to Ireland for what would be his first official visit to the country since 2008.

Mr Coveney extended the invitation to the Palestinian leader when they met on the Tánaiste’s visit to the West Bank on the last day of his four-day visit to the Middle East.

Mr Abbas told Mr Coveney at their meeting in Ramallah that he would like to visit Ireland this year. It is possible that the Palestinian leader might be able to visit in May or in September on his way to the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Mr Coveney reaffirmed Ireland’s support for Jerusalem being recognised as the future capital of Palestine and Israel, telling Mr Abbas that he thought the Trump administration’s decision to recognise the city as the capital of Israel was a bad move for Middle East peace.

It was Mr Coveney’s first meeting with Mr Abbas since he became Minister for Foreign Affairs last year but his second trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories in the role.

In their meeting, the Tánaiste reiterated the Government’s support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: to set up an independent Palestinian state side by side with Israel.

Mr Coveney travelled on to Gaza, where he met the Palestinian Authority’s minister for infrastructure development and the Palestinian human rights group PCHR and OHCHR, the UN group for human rights.

He also met young Gazan entrepreneurs in the tech start-up Gaza Sky Geeks and announced an increase of €200,000 in Government funding for Palestinian students in Ireland.