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The case for recognising Palestine as a state - Ireland should follow Sweden
First published:Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 00:20The decision by Sweden’s new centre-left government to set in train the formal recognition ofPalestineas a state, was followed on Monday by a non-binding vote in the Commons – 274-12 – to do likewise. The British government made clear it would not do so, yet. And France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said on Tuesday that Paris would only recognise a Palestinian state if doing so would help achieve peace. But if negotiations fail, “Paris would recognise the Palestinian state” .
IRISH TIMES - Oct 16, 2014 But the mood music represents a significant racheting up of diplomatic pressure onIsrael, a sign of increasing exasperation in EU capitals at its perceived failure to engage in dialogue and particularly its continuing expansion of settlements – in recent weeks, the seizure of 1,000 acres of land near Bethlehem and plans to build 2,600 settler homes near Jerusalem.
That alienation was most strikingly expressed by Tory chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard Ottaway, who said he had stood by Israel “through the good years and the bad ... but such is my anger over Israel’s behaviour in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”
Ireland, although among the EU states most supportive of the Palestinians, has traditionally been conservative about wielding the recognition card, whether to bestow or withdraw. In response to Dáil questions this week Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan echoed Fabius in linking recognition to assisting talks.
But perhaps the time has come to go further. The most recent US-mediated talks collapsed in April and Israel, whose diplomats are frantically lobbying against recognition, needs to be told that it can not hold the issue hostage while continuing to prevaricate on engaging in meaningful dialogue. Recognition would not do anything to copperfasten Palestinian sovereignty, but it would send an important message to Israel that there will be a diplomatic price to pay. Ireland should join Sweden in doing so.
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.