On September 22nd, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that Ireland may recognize Palestine as a state if talks over a two-state solution with Israel continue failing.
He made the remarks during a joint press conference with visiting Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who was accompanying President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We have made a choice not to officially recognize the state of Palestine just yet,” the Irish Times quoted Coveney as saying.
However, he did say that Ireland has already committed to recognizing a Palestinian state as part of a peace process. However, if the negotiations fail, the Irish government might “have to forget the second part of that.” He also speculated that other European countries would possibly take a similar position.
The Palestinian delegation also met Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Michael D Higgins. It is on its way to New York where Abbas will speak at the United Nations General Assembly. The essence of his address will be the need for the international community to rescue the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or abandon it altogether.
Coveney also announced the Government is considering hosting a meeting in Ireland between leaders of Arab and European countries and Palestinian representatives in a bid to restart the stalled peace process.
Ireland will also increase its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees from €4.5 million to €7 million this year to help plug the gap left by the Trump administration’s decision to pull $200 million in funding from the agency. Coveney called the US decision “a mistake.” Late August, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to the refugee agency. The US was the largest contributor to the UNRWA.
Established in 1949, the UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
The potential meeting in Ireland was welcomed by Mr al-Maliki as a way for allowing “the international community to take up its own responsibility to seek action when it comes to Palestinian-Israeli peace process.”
Coveney was asked if he believes that Israel is moving towards the imposition of an apartheid-style regime in the Palestinian territories, he replied that it is not difficult to find examples of injustice in the region. “We have an occupation of the Palestinian territories,” he said. “And while that occupation is taking place we are seeing an expansion of Israeli settlements on to Palestinian lands. In our view that is illegal.”
He also mentioned the demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces, including the planned destruction of the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar in West Bank.
“We need sustained dialogue if we are to make a breakthrough in the Middle East peace Process. We believe that shutting down channels of communications is never a good idea.”
More than 170 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the “Great March of Return” began on March 30th, with Palestinians protesting every week along the fence in the Gaza Strip.