Diarmaid Ferriter: Time for Ireland to recognise Palestine

Government has opportunity to take lead within EU on Palestinian question

A mural in Gaza City of  Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, a wheelchair-bound  Palestinian who was shot dead in clashes between Israeli forces and protesters along the Gaza-Israel border in December. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

A mural in Gaza City of Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, a wheelchair-bound Palestinian who was shot dead in clashes between Israeli forces and protesters along the Gaza-Israel border in December. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Predictably, US president Donald Trump began the new year as he finished the old; full of bile, bluster and bullying tweets. The Palestinian Authority, he claimed earlier this week, had taken “hundreds of millions of dollars” in assistance from the United States while showing “no appreciation or respect”. Having recently declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and thus deliberately stoked the fires of enmity, he now decries the Palestinians as “no longer willing to talk peace”. Trump’s interventions have had nothing to do with peace in that region and are solely about satisfying his domestic agenda.

Just before Christmas, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid a visit to Irish peacekeeping troops in south Lebanon and criticised Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as a “misstep” and the “wrong long-term decision”. This was in line with the United Nations vote to condemn the US action, but is this the best that Varadkar and his Government can do? The Government has deliberately tiptoed around the issue of recognition of Palestine as a state; according to Varadkar, the Government is “open” to this recognition but only as part of an European Union-wide agreement, and “conditions at the moment aren’t right”.

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