Will Ireland Recognize Palestine?

By Juan Cole

After Sweden recognized Palestine, the Irish government began considering doing so. On Thursday, the Irish parliament asked Irish Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, questions regarding this plan.

Gilmore affirmed that the Irish government is planning at some point in the near future to move ahead with recognition.

A few European Union member states had recognized Palestine before joining the EU, such as Poland. Only Sweden has done so after joining the EU, with Iceland also recognizing Israel and being part of the Schwengen agreement. The action of Sweden’s leftwing government in this regard may set off an avalanche of similar recognition. The British parliament recently passed a non-binding resolution urging recognition of Palestine. Only 12 MPs voted against it, because even staunch supporters of Israel are exasperated by the boldness of the Likud Party in stealing land, blighting Palestinian lives, and flouting international law.

Ireland is a bellwether for European sentiment. The central narrative of Irish nationalism has been British colonialism and its atrocities in Ireland. After the Holocaust, many Irish intellectuals sympathized with Zionism, seeing it as similar to Irish nationalism.

But with the clearly colonial actions of Israel in the Palestinian West Bank and the brutality of Israeli Occupation of Gaza, Israel looks more and more to the Irish like the British colonialists who sold off Irish-grown food abroad in the midst of the potato famine.

This week the Irish Times urged the government to take the step of recognizing Palestine

Diplomatic recognition matters because it affects public opinion, including that of judges. Israeli firms on the Palestinian West Bank are increasingly in legal jeopardy in European courts.

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14 Responses

  1. Hello Juan, I don’t believe Iceland is a member of the EU (although it has applied). The present right-wing gov’t was thinking of withdrawing, but switched to a having a referendum (which hasn’t been held yet).
    A link: link to euractiv.com
    Cheers, –Chet

  2. The second lesson of this article is how the Brits were on the wrong side of the moral divide in Irish history. Further study of British history will reveal Britain’s role in Ireland was similar to its role in its former empire. It also helps to explain why the Brits have such a close relationship with the United States.

  3. I wonder if it’s less bleeding heart liberalism and more that failure to recognize Palestine raises concerns for domestic terrorism, and, more generally, unfavorable public opinion towards the Government. Seems like a win win situation for me. Israel’s in the doghouse anyway, as the boycotts seem to illustrate.

    • “…….more that failure to recognize Palestine raises concerns for domestic terrorism….”

      It was former Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams, now a member of the Irish parliament, who had requested a moment of silence for the victims of Gaza last July:

      link to timesofisrael.com

    • The treatment of refugees in Ireland under the Direct Provision system doesn’t support that idea. The Direct Provision system also draws an ugly comparison between Ireland’s seeming respect for Palestinian rights and respect shown for human rights in its own jurisdiction.

  4. It’s clearly past time for a Palestinian state. The Palestinians must have something on which to build a future for themselves and their children. And it needs to be a state with well-defined and internationally-recognized borders. The pre-1967 borders are a good place to start negotiations for the two states. Certainly Israel has security concerns and these must be recognized by the Palestinians. But the development of massive Israeli colonialism and the resulting apartheid are signs of absolute failure on the part of the Israelis. No good will come of this current arrangement.

  5. Wow. What would happen if Senator David Norris gave that speech in the USA? I can’t even imagine…

  6. The Irish really don’t need memories of their own historical oppression to inspire human sympathy for the Palestinians. They are, however, considerably less susceptible to US threats and bribes. Spain and France are also moving towards debates, and there will surely be others over the coming weeks. Does anyone else sense that in the shadow of this concern for Palestinians may lurk a European inclination for independence from US preferences?

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