No wish to cut diplomatic ties with Israel as Ireland proceeds with plan to recognise Palestine, says Harris

Taoiseach addresses reports of diplomatic row after his phone call with Israeli president Yitzhak Herzog

Taoiseach Simon Harris has said Ireland will recognise a Palestinian state by the end of the month while insisting he does not want diplomatic relations with Israel to be severed as a result.

Mr Harris was speaking after a report that a diplomatic row has arisen surrounding a phone call between Mr Harris and Israeli president Yitzhak Herzog in which Ireland’s intention to recognise Palestine was discussed.

Ireland and some other European countries including Spain are preparing to recognise the Palestinian state and Mr Harris outlined Ireland’s plan to do so during a phone call with Mr Herzog on Friday.

According to a RTÉ report, sources close to the Israeli president said Mr Herzog warned that unilateral recognition of Palestine could jeopardise any hope of Hamas releasing the hostages it continues to hold in Gaza and encourage further attacks on Israel.


An Irish Government statement in response said: “Some of the content of the anonymous briefing to RTÉ does not accurately reflect the content of the conversation.”

Later, speaking to the media in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, on Sunday morning at the National Famine Commemoration, Mr Harris said he has “less than zero interest in getting into some form of back-and-forth between myself and the president of Israel.

“I had a good conversation with the president of Israel. We had a firm and respectful conversation.

“It is my job as the Taoiseach of this country to speak up for the Irish position, to speak out on behalf of the people of Ireland,” he said.

“The Irish position in relation to the Middle East, in relation to Gaza, in relation to Israel, is very straightforward and very consistent.

“We need to see an immediate cessation of violence. We need to see unimpeded and unhindered access to humanitarian aid because there is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in front of our eyes, and we need to see a two-state solution.

“In order to see a two-state solution and to help bring one about you have to recognise the very existence of two states. And in the coming days, Ireland intends to do just that,” Mr Harris said.

Asked whether Ireland would press ahead with unilateral recognition of Palestine if it led to a severing of diplomatic ties with Israel, Mr Harris replied: “Firstly it’s not unilateral: Ireland is working with a number of like-minded countries in relation to this. I expect a number to move in the coming days. I expect more to move in the coming weeks.”

“Certainly Ireland doesn’t wish to sever diplomatic relations,” the Taoiseach added.

When asked to give details of when recognition of Palestine will occur, the Mr Harris said there is “important sequencing” and political processes that have to be followed so a specific date will be decided in the coming days.

“But what I can tell you is it’s absolutely our intention to recognise the state of Palestine this month and there’s not that long left in this month.”

On Sunday afternoon a statement from Israel’s embassy in Dublin said: “In their conversation [on Friday], President Herzog reiterated Israel’s concerns regarding a unilateral recognition, which would create more questions than answers: What would Ireland be recognising, since Gaza is under Hamas rule? How does it help the Palestinians in Gaza?

The statement also said: “What signal does it send to Hamas, following the brutal attacks on October 7th and thereafter?

“In addition, such a step is feared to jeopardise any hope of Hamas releasing the 129 kidnapped individuals they are still holding.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times