EU must do more to unblock funding for Palestine, Tánaiste says

Micheál Martin says Ireland will back Ursula von der Leyen for European Commission president

Micheál Martin says the EU needs to support Palestinian Authority. Photograph: AP

The European Union needs to do more to “unblock” funding to support the Palestinian Authority following reforms by the governing entity, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has said.

The authority, which currently controls parts of the West Bank, had the ability to be “effective” and take over the running of Gaza from Hamas militants in the aftermath of Israel’s war in the area, he said.

Mr Martin said the humanitarian situation in Gaza was “dire” and it was clear Israel was violating international humanitarian law on a “systemic basis”.

“This has to come to an end. We need the immediate release of hostages and we need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” he said.


More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza health authorities, since Israel invaded the strip in response to the October 7th attacks in southern Israel by Hamas, which left 1,200 people dead.

Speaking in Luxembourg before a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Mr Martin said Ireland would be pushing for the EU to be “far more proactive” in supporting the Palestinian Authority following reforms.

“Europe needs to do far more, far more quickly to unblock funding to the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Separately, Mr Martin reiterated that the Government would be backing Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as European Commission president. He said it was clear that Ms von der Leyen “will emerge as the single candidate” for commission president following a summit of the 27 EU leaders later this week, he said.

Israeli airstrike kills eight at Gaza aid centre, witnesses sayOpens in new window ]

Ursual von der Leyen is expected to be the only candidate for the position of European Commission president. Photograph: Olivier Matthys/EPA

The Fianna Fáil leader said the three Coalition leaders would on Monday evening discuss who Ireland would nominate as its next EU commissioner, with a name then being brought to Cabinet on Tuesday. Under the Coalition agreement it is Fianna Fáil’s turn to choose a commissioner, with Minister for Finance Michael McGrath heavily tipped to take the job.

“We’ll be putting forward a very high caliber candidate, that is what counts,” Mr Martin said.

The gains made by far right parties across Europe in the recent European Parliament elections in countries like France were concerning, Mr Martin said. “Ireland has had a somewhat different result perhaps. There are straws in the wind in terms of the growth of certain parties and movements which we cannot ignore.”

The Tánaiste also said he welcomed the fact that Ukraine’s progress towards joining the EU was moving along, with “great credit” due to Kyiv for managing this during a war.

“I think it reflects a level of competence and genuine commitment on behalf of the Ukrainian government to joining the European Union,” he said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times