View from Jerusalem: Some Israelis see Ireland as simply naive; others think it is anti-Semitic

Netanyahu will not accept a Palestinian state even if means losing Saudi goodwill. But it is not a good time for Israeli diplomacy

As far as most Israelis are concerned, the recognition by Ireland and other European states of a Palestinian state is essentially an exercise in futility. A Palestinian state does not exist so how can you recognise it?

Some Israelis view the Irish as well-meaning but naïve in the extreme: others view Dublin as traditionally anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic.

Israel feels betrayed by Ireland. There is a widespread feeling that in Israel’s greatest hour of need, after the biggest disaster to befall the Jewish people since the Holocaust, Dublin should stand side by side with Israel. Instead it is supporting a Palestinian state which most Israelis believe, rightly or wrongly, would quickly develop into a radical Hamas state along Israel’s border: Gaza on steroids. Such a scenario will not bring peace closer, a majority of Israelis would argue, but could be the final death blow to prospects for ending the Middle East conflict.

A survey by the Israel Democracy Institute in February found that around two-thirds of Jewish respondents (63%) oppose an independent Palestinian state even if it is demilitarised, although a large majority of Israel’s Arab minority (73%) support it.


A Palestinian state is further away today than it has been for many years. Even many in the (rapidly shrinking) peace camp in Israel believe prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s mantra that to express support for a Palestinian state today is akin to granting a prize to the Hamas gunmen who committed the atrocities on October 7th.

In a cruel twist of fate Ireland’s announcement that it will recognise a Palestinian state came just a few days after Israel had received its best offer yet to accept Palestinian statehood. It was brought by US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who flew to Israel from Saudi Arabia with a deal that has been in the works for months.

Israeli leaders were told that Riyadh would be willing to normalise ties as part of a package that includes regional security pacts (aimed against Iran), advanced US weapons systems for the Saudis but with two concessions from Israel: an end to the Gaza war and agreeing to a Palestinian state.

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said no. He is not prepared to end the war at this juncture, and will not accept a Palestinian state even at the cost of rejecting the jewel in the crown in Israel’s quest for regional acceptance, relations with Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state and he knows that agreeing to such a scenario will lead to the end of his right-wing coalition and, in all likelihood, the end of his political career.

It’s been a bad week for Israeli diplomacy. The recognition of a Palestinian state followed the recommendation by International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and defence minister Yoav Gallant, along with Hamas leaders, a move that was condemned almost across the political spectrum in Israel as a moral outrage.

Increasingly Israel feels diplomatically isolated and there is a growing feeling of Israel against the world. In such an environment it is not easy for Israeli leaders to make concessions – concessions that may be essential to reach a ceasefire and hostage-release deal. Israel’s opponents could argue that the country’s isolation gives its leaders an excuse not to make concessions that they had no intention of making anyway.