'The timing is terrible': Reaction as Ireland recognises state of Palestine

'The Timing Is Terrible': Reaction As Ireland Recognises State Of Palestine
The Government said it would formally recognise the state of Palestine in a joint move with Norway and Spain. Photo: PA
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Vivienne Clarke

The Palestinian ambassador to Ireland has thanked the Irish Government for its formal recognition of the state of Palestine, while the Israeli embassy in Ireland has said it views the move as "undermining its sovereignty and security".

Taoiseach Simon Harris made the announcement that Ireland will recognise the state of Palestine in a joint move with Norway and Spain on Wednesday morning.


Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid, the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that her reaction to the announcement was "positive and emotional".

“I think it's time. It's not just symbolic, it's a recognition of our rights, of 13 million people, of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and to live in peace and security in a sovereign state. That acknowledgement of recognition is highly welcomed by the Palestinian leadership. And, of course, by all the Palestinians."

Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid. Photo: PA

Dr Abdalmajid said Ireland had led the way and had worked hard with other countries at UN level and within the EU, which had resulted in the recognition which was "something very good, very strong".


She said the United States could not ignore the international community and if they were to use their veto again at the UN Security Council, it would be seen as opposing the international community.

When asked about the decision of Israel to recall its ambassadors from Ireland and Norway, Dr Abdalmajid said the Palestinian people deserved the formal recognition.

"Someone should take the lead and say to the international community that [the war in Gaza] must stop," she said. "And the Palestinian people deserve to have their own state, to live in peace and security in the region. We cannot just live in this war forever."

Israeli ambassador recalled

Meanwhile, the Israeli embassy in Ireland said it views the move to recognise Palestine as "damaging to our bilateral relations".


It said the Israeli government has recalled its ambassador in Dublin, Dana Erlich, "temporarily for consultations".

"We are disappointed by the Irish government’s decision on recognition, which follows worrying initiatives and statements in recent months," it said in a statement.

Israeli ambassador Dana Erlich. Photo: PA

"This decision brings more questions than answers, especially regarding its timing, after Hamas committed the worst atrocity against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. In the wake of the brutal attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7 which saw the indiscriminate mass murder of 1,200 people and the kidnapping, rape and torture of hundreds more, a step such as this sends a message to Palestinians and the world: Terrorism pays.


"This act jeopardises any hope of Hamas releasing any of the 128 women, children and men kidnapped and held captive by them.

"Unilateral gestures such as this will do nothing for either Palestinians or Israelis. We can only resolve our differences through bilateral negotiation. Just as in Ireland’s case, political steps cannot be imposed.

"Recognition raises many questions, such as what is meant by ‘Palestine’. What does it mean for Gaza since Hamas, who control it, are bitter rivals of the Palestinian Authority. How will this help the people of Gaza under Hamas’s rule? Most importantly, one must question the timing of this announcement in the midst of a war that Hamas launched."

'Terrible' timing

Oliver Sears, the founder of Holocaust Awareness Ireland, described the timing of the State’s recognition of Palestine as "frankly, terrible."


Speaking on Newstalk radio, Mr Sears said he wanted peace for the region and supported a Palestinian state, but timing was everything.

"We all want peace in this region. I've been a committed peacenik who has wanted a Palestinian state for as long as I'm aware of this region and this crisis. I think timing is everything. I think the timing is, frankly, terrible. You can't force peace on two warring parties. You have to create an atmosphere where there is at least the beginning of trust between the parties. We know this from the long peace negotiations that happened in the north of this country."

Mr Sears said the Irish Government’s action was emotional but not practical and did not recognise how the region was going to find peace.

When asked how he thought the Jewish community in Ireland would regard the decision to recognise the Palestinian state, Mr Sears replied: "They know that this has been coming. My sense is that they will be very disappointed because they see it as a reward to Hamas. And everybody in the community is sickened by what's going on. Most Jews I talked to are absolutely in favour of a two-state solution. It's just the timing."

Government 'got it right'

Bobby McDonagh, a former Irish Ambassador to the EU, said the Government “got it right” with its official recognition of Palestine.

Mr McDonagh told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne that the timing was right for the announcement.

“I think it's the right decision in principle and at the right time as well. Of course, no timing is perfect because there are pros and cons of timing, but I think that they've got it right. We've had 143 of 193 countries at the United Nations recently calling for Palestine to be recognised, Sweden recognised to Palestine in 2014, and many other EU countries did it before that and we’re acting with Norway and Spain. So I think the timing is right, and I think it's the right decision.”

Mr McDonagh said that the only way to undermine extremism was to provide a political perspective. “And that's what Norway and Spain and Ireland and hopefully some other countries do later in the month.”

Ireland had to do what it thought was right, he added. “We just have to do what we think is right, working with many members of the international community. And our motives are absolutely clear. We want peace. We want justice. But you can only control your actions. You can't control responses to them.”

Political reaction

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said the recognition of Palestine was an important first step.

"Ireland is a small nation but we punch above our weight when it comes to influence at both European level and with the United States," Ms McDonald said.

"The recognition of Palestinian Statehood by Ireland must be the first step in the Government playing a leading international role in assisting the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.

"The Government must follow today’s announcement by utilising every tool at their disposal to hold Israel to account and to demand full adherence to international law."

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the announcement was a "really welcome and positive move", and essential to create momentum towards peace and the two-state solution.

Independent MEP Clare Daly welcomed the "symbolic gesture" but said Ireland should have recognised Palestine as a state decades ago.

"What Palestinians need is tangible action, such as an arms embargo, denial of passage through Shannon airport to US military aircraft aiding the genocide, and suspension of the trade relationship with Israel," she said in a statement.

Independent TD Cathal Berry described the recognition of Palestine as a positive development.

It was also positive that the move was in conjunction with two other European countries, this was the logical way to do business, he told Newstalk.

"I think it's the only logical way to do business, really, in light of what happened in the General Assembly 12 days ago when an overwhelming majority of UN members decided to recognise the existence of Palestine and request that it be given full UN membership status as well."

The DUP's Ian Paisley criticised the move by the Irish Government as "electioneering".

In a statement, the North Antrim representative said: "The announcement by the Dublin Prime Minister to recognise the state of Palestine – even though he could not identify that state accurately on a map – will unfortunately only play into the hands of extremist, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel factions. Ireland should brace itself for a run of abuse against people and businesses associated with Israel."

Mr Paisley added: "It has taken the Irish state over 90 years to recognise Palestine. One can only view that this is about electioneering and appealing to the extreme elements in Irish society to come back and support the so-called centrist parties." – Additional reporting: Press Association

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