The Irish Times view on Ireland recognising Palestine: a welcome development and a message to Israel

Israel has argued - and until now most EU member states have accepted - that the move would be premature

Although Ireland in 1980 was the first EU state to endorse the idea of Palestinian statehood, turning this aspiration into actual recognition of that state has taken nearly a quarter of a century.

Micheál Martin’s announcement in the Dáil on Tuesday that Ireland, and several EU allies, will now do so shortly is a welcome and important diplomatic acknowledgment of the well-established reality of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank, and a timely political admonishment of both Israel’s war against Gaza and its refusal to advance negotiations on a two-state solution.

In 2014 the Oireachtas passed resolutions calling on the Government to “officially recognise the state of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, as established in UN resolutions, as a further positive contribution to securing a negotiated two-state settlement to the Israeli-Palestine conflict.” To no avail. The Government’s reluctance stemmed from its wish to preserve the common EU foreign policy, while attempting over a long period to move the consensus within the Council of Ministers to a position more critical of Israel. Ireland was not alone but has been seen as an outlier in its support for Palestine. Spain, Slovenia and Malta have also declared they will recognise Palestine.

Israel has argued, and until now most EU member states have accepted, that recognition would be premature, pre-empting the shape of agreement reached between it and Palestine in final settlement talks in the framework of the now largely moribund Oslo peace accords and their promise of a two-state solution. Israel has for some years refused to talk.


“We have agreed,” Martin told the Dáil, “that the undermining of the Oslo accords and therefore the agreement to create two states has reached a point where the accords’ approach of recognition after a final agreement is not credible or tenable any longer.” The decision is also an important implied challenge to an unwilling Israel to accept a Palestinian Authority role in the administering of Gaza post-Israeli withdrawal.