Seanad motion urging recognition for state of Palestine agreed unanimously

Concerns raised that Middle East debate in Leinster House always ’one-sided’

Senator Averil Power proposed the motion following the recent announcement by Sweden that it would recognise Palestine, becoming the 135th country to do so. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Senator Averil Power proposed the motion following the recent announcement by Sweden that it would recognise Palestine, becoming the 135th country to do so. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The Seanad has unanimously accepted a Fianna Fáil motion calling on the Government to formally recognise the state of Palestine.

Senator Averil Power proposed the motion following the recent announcement by Sweden that it would recognise Palestine, becoming the 135th country to do so.

Palestinian ambassador to Ireland Ahmed Abdelrazek, new US ambassador Kevin O’Malley and Moroccan ambassador Anas Khales were in the Upper House as the issue was raised.

Calling on the Government to formally recognise Palestine, Ms Power said that 20 years after the Oslo Accords the prospects of achieving a two-state solution appeared to be more remote than ever.

Blaming Israel she said it had “done everything it can to undermine the chances of achieving such an outcome” and “while pretending to talk peace it has continuously intensified its illegal occupation of Palestine”.

She said that as things stood Israel had no incentive to engage in meaningful negotiations and added that without wider recognition of the Palestinian state, Palestinian representatives “have also been in a weaker position at the negotiating table”.

Fine Gael Senator Michael Mullins welcomed the motion and said the Government would continue to do everything possible at an international level to help achieve an end to the conflict.

Jim Walsh (FF) said “we need to develop a strategy because for too long Israel has obstructed any final settlement on this issue”.

David Norris (Ind) said a majority of states now recognised the Palestinian state and it would be timely if Ireland did so.

“This should put some pressure on the state of Israel which seeks to frustrate any efforts at any stage where there is a possibility of peace.”

Thomas Byrne (FF) said “traditional support for the Palestinian people is deeply ingrained in the Irish people”.

But Paul Bradford (Ind) said he had difficulty with the motion and what he believed to be a “very unbalanced presentation of middle eastern politics in the House. We see only one side and only one side of the story.”

Paschal Mooney (FF) agreed with Mr Bradford that debate on the Middle East in the House was always one-sided.

“We rarely hear the Israeli side although it is a country whose people believe that they too are victims.”

The motion was agreed without a vote.

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