Sunday 19 November 2017

Israeli public figures urge Ireland to recognise Palestine

Senator Averil Power. Photo: Tom Burke
Senator Averil Power. Photo: Tom Burke

Shona Murray

A sizeable group of Israel's most influential politicians and former legislators are urging Ireland to recognise Palestine.

A group of 660 say they are "worried by the continued political stalemate, the occupation, and the settlement activities that lead to further confrontations with Palestinians, and quash any chances for compromise".

The group includes the former Israeli Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair, former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Ilan Baruch, and Nobel Prize Laureate Daniel Kahneman.

Alon Liel, former Director General of Israel's Foreign Affairs ministry, said: "The Irish people worked with conflict; solved their conflict. We're looking for this kind of example, of places that suffered from conflict and solved it."

In the meantime, "our conflict looks unsolvable, and Ireland is an example we need".

Last month, the Seanad passed a motion calling on the Government to recognise Palestine. Led by Senator Averil Power, the motion was passed without a vote, and achieved all-party support.

Her party colleague Brendan Smith has since formally tabled a motion in the Dail where it is now on the order paper.

"I've been talking to Labour and Fine Gael members who are lobbying in their own parties to make this move", said Ms Power.

She says Fianna Fail hasn't pushed it to a vote yet, as the party is agitating to "get cross party support instead".

In addition to Ireland, France, Denmark and Spain are also considering the issue at parliament level.

Alon Liel told the Irish Independent: "If you stand alone on this issue, its every reason for Israel to present Sweden as the odd man out; as running a ridiculous policy.

"It was very important that Britain made a move; but a month has passed and the momentum needs to continue."

Last month, British parliament voted to recognise Palestine as an independent state alongside Israel, but the vote is essentially cosmetic, as Prime Minister David Cameron says it will not alter Britain's foreign policy.

If the countries that are dealing with it now - Ireland, Spain, Denmark and France - pass the resolution and recommend to recognise Palestine as a state, then "we have a real European momentum, which could reach a European consensus", said Liel, leading the petition which has been sent to the Oireachtas.

The Israeli Embassy in Dublin responded: "Imagine if any country in the world would have recognised a final status in favour of one of the sides in the conflict in Northern Ireland before the peace process started."

Irish Independent

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