Irish Senate Calls for Recognition of 'Palestine'

Ireland's upper house of parliament passes a motion calling on the government to recognize “the state of Palestine”.

Ben Ariel,

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Flag of Ireland

Ireland's upper house of parliament on Wednesday passed a motion calling on the Dublin government to recognize “the state of Palestine”, AFP reports.

Much like last week’s vote in Britain, the move is a symbolic one that is unlikely to change policy.

The motion called on the "government to formally recognize the state of Palestine and do everything it can to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that citizens of both states can live in peace and security," according to AFP.

It had cross-party support and passed without a vote.

Tabling the motion, opposition senator Averil Power said Ireland should "make it clear that statehood is a right of the Palestinian people and not a bargaining chip for the Israelis to play in further sham negotiations.

"In doing so, we will help increase pressure on Israel to pursue a genuine peace process that has a real prospect of delivering peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians alike," added Power.

The Irish government is not bound to follow the motion, as it was initiated by an opposition lawmaker in the upper house, which has little real power, noted the report.

Power told AFP that Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan would visit the senate in November to discuss the issue.

"It was great that we didn't have to have a vote as we had cross-party support, which sends out a strong message," she said.

Ahead of the vote, the Israeli ambassador to Ireland Boaz Modai said he had contacted all senators to urge them to vote against the measure.

"Stunt gestures such as recognizing 'Palestine' unilaterally are counter-productive because they only give excuses to those on the Palestinian side who hope to achieve their goals without talking directly to Israel," the embassy said in a statement quoted by AFP.

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, however, called the move an important expression of support for Palestinian statehood that would "increase diplomatic pressure on Israel to end the occupation."

The motion which passed last week in Britain was sponsored by Labour member Grahame Morris and passed by an overwhelming majority of 274 to 12.

It calls to "recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel" as part of a "contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution."

The British move came after Sweden made a storm by pledging its commitment to recognize a Palestinian state  on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman criticized the announcement, saying it came to compensate for Western failures.

Sweden eventually effectively retracted the statement, saying that “the conflict between Israel and Palestine can be solved through the two-state solution, by negotiations in accordance with the principles of international law.”