Ireland working with Spain and others to build support for recognition of Palestine

Simon Harris says a ‘very clear view emerging’ in Europe of the need for violence in Gaza to end

Ireland is working with Spain and a number of other countries to build support for the formal recognition of the state of Palestine, with Taoiseach Simon Harris saying it was “highly likely” more countries in Europe would back the move.

The new Fine Gael leader discussed Ireland’s plans to press ahead and recognise Palestine in a meeting with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels yesterday.

Mr Harris was also expected to discuss the proposals with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez at the sidelines of an informal dinner he attended in Warsaw with a number of EU leaders on Thursday evening.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Harris said it was “highly likely” more countries would follow Ireland and Spain in planning to recognise the state of Palestine. There was a “very clear view emerging” among European leaders that there needed to be “an immediate cessation of violence” in Gaza.


The introductory meeting with Dr von der Leyen, which was described as “very friendly” by a commission source, also discussed EU-wide reforms of the asylum system.

Mr Harris said Ireland would opt in to all of the measures in the recently approved migration pact, which he said would create a “firmer” asylum system. The reforms will lead to quicker decisions being made on asylum cases and deportations of unsuccessful applicants.

In a series of engagements ahead of a summit of EU leaders next week, Mr Harris discussed the war in Gaza, as well as the priorities of the European bloc for the coming years.

During his meeting with Dr von der Leyen, Mr Harris said he outlined the Government’s view that there needed to be an immediate halt to Israel’s war in Gaza, which started following attacks by Hamas militants on October 7th.

Mr Harris said he did not believe the EU would take a united approach to the proposed recognition of Palestine.

“I believe different member states will adopt different positions in relation to recognising the state of Palestine. But Ireland won’t be waiting for that to be a European approach,” he said. “Ireland wishes to recognise the state of Palestine, I’d like to do that with a number of other countries,” he said.

Earlier, the Government rejected a denunciation of Mr Harris by the Israeli foreign ministry over his first speech to the Dáil as Taoiseach for not specifically mentioning Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

The ministry also expressed “fury” over the intention of the Irish Government to give formal recognition, along with several other EU countries and Norway, to a Palestinian state.

The foreign ministry issued a statement in which it contended that Mr Harris had neglected to mention the Israeli hostages captured by Hamas on October 7th during his maiden speech to the Dáil as Taoiseach.

A spokesman for Mr Harris told The Irish Times that the Taoiseach has been even-handed at all times in his response to the conflict, and that this included condemning the taking of the hostages and calling for their release.

“By any fair analysis, Ireland has always condemned the atrocity Hamas committed on October 7th, and called for hostages to be released. The Taoiseach has repeatedly said it,” said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Micheál Martin rejected suggestions that US military aircraft may be carrying weapons through Shannon Airport en route to Israel.

Speaking in the Dáil, the Fianna Fáil leader insisted that nobody was “using Shannon Airport for any weaponry to go into Gaza or into Israel for that matter”, and stressed that restrictions were enforced “stringently and robustly”.

Mr Martin was responding to People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, who pointed to a huge increase in US military flights passing through Shannon since October and documented by Shannonwatch.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times