Ireland copperfastens reputation as most pro-Palestine EU member

Sunak calls shock July UK election in gamble on a long campaign

Good morning.

News this morning is dominated by the Government’s decision announced early yesterday morning to officially recognise the state of Palestine, a move which was, as our lead story notes, welcomed by many civil society groups, Opposition parties and supporters of Palestine – but was fiercely criticised by Israel and its supporters, with Jerusalem warning that it was a reward for Hamas and would have diplomatic consequences.

Israel has recalled its ambassador for consultations with the foreign ministry in Jerusalem. But sources familiar with Israeli thinking say that a range of responses will be considered – from a diplomatic freeze-out to hampering access for Irish NGOs who run aid programmes in Gaza and the West Bank. The White House said it didn’t agree, but it was hardly a stinging rebuke. The move has copperfastened Ireland’s reputation as the most pro-Palestinian EU member; for many Israelis, it underlined Ireland hostility to them. Some Israelis see Ireland as simply naive, writes Mark Weiss from Jerusalem. Others think it is anti-Semitic.

The Palestinians and their allies, were unsurprisingly overjoyed. Yesterday evening, Taoiseach Simon Harris spoke with the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas by telephone.


Jack Horgan-Jones has a useful Q&A here.

Our editorial welcomes the move. “To describe an act as symbolic is sometimes taken to mean that it is meaningless or hollow,” it says. “But symbolism has its place, not least in international relations. Yesterday’s recognition by Ireland of the state of Palestine is, therefore, of some consequence.”

Sunak gambles on summer election

The recognition of Palestine had been flagged for months. The other big story this morning was more of a surprise: British prime minister Rishi Sunak shocked his party and his country by announcing – in the rain outside Downing Street – a general election for July 4th.

With the polls showing him 20 points behind Keir Starmer, Sunak has the slimmest of chances of avoiding complete humiliation, and he clearly feels that a long campaign gives him the best chance to eating into Labour’s lead and chipping away at its likely majority. It’s a long shot, to be sure. But maybe it’s the only one he had. Certainly, there was no sign things were going to get any better for him by the autumn. London Correspondent Mark Paul reports. Here’s what happens next.

The front pages of the British papers emphasise the gamble element: “Sunak bets the house,” says the Times; “Sunak gambles on snap poll,” says the Telegraph; “Sunak’s big gamble,” says the Guardian; “Sunak bets on July 4 election,” says the FT. The Daily Mail tries to rally the Tory troops: “Now is the moment for Britain the choose its future,” it warns. Even the Sun doesn’t sound too confident. “Just when we were looking forward to the Euros, Taylor, Wimbo and sunshine, Rishi calls a bloody election . . . OH BALLOTS!”

The mood in the Tories varies from merely despairing to outright apocalyptic. In its leading article, the Spectator, perhaps the best judge of Conservative politics, warns that a summer election is “suicide for the Tories”. It describes Sunak’s decision to go for the early election as “an admission of defeat”. Yes, yes, chaps: but the question is, how big a defeat?

Best Reads


First outing for the new Minister for Higher Education Patrick O’Donovan at Dáil oral questions at 9am this morning. O’Donovan is a combative performer in the chamber, so it will be interesting to see how he copes here. His turn is followed by another debut for new Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke for his oral questions. Leaders’ Questions at 12, followed by statements on the Government’s Business Support package. There’s a motion on mental health supports later.

Light day in the Seanad, but there is an important Bill up for committee stage debate. It’s Malcom Byrne’s Bill to make it illegal to protest outside politicians’ homes – something which the recent Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll found overwhelming support for.

Some interesting meetings at the committees. The Committee on the Good Friday Agreement will hear from academics about the all-island economy. Minister of State for European Affairs Jennifer Carroll-MacNeill is at the Seanad Select Committee on the Scrutiny of Draft EU-related Statutory Instruments (yes, that is its name); Stephen Donnelly is at the joint committee on Public Petitions and the Ombudsman for discussion on a petition to reopen Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospital emergency departments; Micheál Martin is at the Defence Committee. Full details here.

Finally, Tony O’Reilly’s funeral is this morning in Donnybrook. That’ll be a big funeral, as they say.

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