Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris
Irish Prime Minister Simon HarrisReuters/Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto

Ireland is close to formally recognizing a Palestinian state and would like to do so in concert with Spain and other like-minded countries, its new prime minister Simon Harris said on Friday after meeting his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez, reported the Reuters news agency.

“Let me this evening say our assessment is that that point is coming much closer and we would like to move together in doing so,” Harris said after meeting Sanchez, the first premier to visit Dublin since Harris became prime minister this week.

“When we move forward, we would like to do so with as many others as possible to lend weight to the decision and to send the strongest message. The people of Israel deserve a secure and peaceful future, so do the people of Palestine. Equal sovereignty, equal respect,” Harris added.

Spain and Ireland, together with Malta and Slovenia, announced last month that they would jointly work toward the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Irish Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said this week that formal recognition of “Palestine” by Ireland “will happen” and added he was bringing a formal proposal on the recognition of Palestinian statehood to Government.

Israel told the four EU countries that committed to moving toward Palestinian recognition that their initiative would amount to a “prize for terrorism” that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the conflict.

The meeting with Harris was part of a number Sanchez planned this week with EU counterparts to try to garner support for the recognition of a Palestinian state, according to Reuters.

Sanchez said last week that his country will recognize Palestinian statehood by July.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has long urged countries to recognize “Palestine” as a means of bypassing direct talks with Israel.

While several European countries have recognized “Palestine” in recent years, those moves were symbolic ones that have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.

Relations between Israel and Ireland have been tense in recent years. Former Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar recently launched a tirade against Israel, accusing the country of becoming "blinded by rage" as it doubles down on plans to launch a ground offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

On Thursday, Israel criticized Harris afterhe failed to mention the hostages being held by Hamas during his first speech after being elected leader, even though he condemned the war in Gaza.

Sanchez has been a major critic of Israel since the start of the war in Gaza, which began after Hamas’ deadly October 7 attacks.

In November, Spain’s Ambassador to Israel was summoned by the Foreign Ministry after Sanchez claimed that "Israel is violating international law and is carrying out indiscriminate killings in Gaza."

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)