Ireland ‘will soon recognise Palestinian state’


THE Israeli Ambassador to Ireland relayed a warning to the Israeli government on Tuesday that the Irish parliament would soon move to recognise the state of Palestine.

It was reported that Zeev Boker warned the Israeli government that Ireland’s recognition of a Palestinian state was fast approaching, owing much to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s advancement of 6,000 new illegal settler units on occupied Palestinian land and the recent passage of the outpost Regularisation bill which has paved the way for the retroactive legalisation of dozens of Israeli settler outposts.

An unidentified Israeli official was was quoted as saying that Boker was working to block the recognition by appealing to the new ultra US administration of President Donald Trump to put pressure on the Irish government.

Netanyahu is also expected to discuss the issue with Ireland’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny. Earlier this week, Ireland was one of five European countries that opposed a summit between the European Union (EU) and Israel scheduled for February 26 as a result of the dramatic growth of settlement expansion policies spearheaded by the Israeli government in recent weeks.

Their opposition caused the meeting to be postponed. In December 2014, Irish lawmakers urged their government to recognise Palestine as a state in a symbolic motion that sailed through parliament unopposed. The non-binding motion agreed by lawmakers in Dublin called on the government to ‘officially recognise the State of Palestine, on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, as established in UN resolutions’.

Sweden became the first Western European country to recognise the state of Palestine in 2014. Since then, support for recognising a Palestinian state has surged in Europe through various government resolutions and pro-Palestinian activism, particularly following Israel’s devastating military offensive in 2014 which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians.

• The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) slammed the United States for objecting to a proposal by the United Nations to appoint former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to head a UN mission, calling the move ‘a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity.’

After learning of a plan by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint Fayyad to lead the UN political mission in Libya, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said last Friday that the US was ‘disappointed,’ claiming the move showed bias against US ally Israel. Haley said: ‘For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.’

Haley also said: ‘The US does not recognise a Palestinian state nor does it support the signal this appointment would send to the United Nations.’ Palestine is a non-member observer state at the UN and its independence has been recognised by 137 of the 193 UN member nations.

The United Nations Security Council released a statement on their website on Saturday defending the proposal to appoint Fayyad, saying it was ‘solely based on Fayyad’s recognised personal qualities and his competence for that position.’ ‘United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity.

‘They do not represent any government or country. The UNSC statement also said: ‘Ño Israeli and no Palestinian have served in a post of high responsibility at the United Nations. This is a situation that the Secretary-General feels should be corrected, always based on personal merit and competency of potential candidates for specific posts.’

It remained unclear whether or not the US objection had ended Fayyad’s candidacy for the post.

On Saturday morning, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi denounced the US attempt to block Fayyad’s appointment, calling it ‘unconscionable’ and ‘a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity.’

‘It defies logic that the appointment of the most qualified candidate is blocked because it is perceived as detrimental to Israel. It constitutes a blanket license for the exclusion of Palestinians everywhere. She went on to express hope that ‘saner voices will prevail and that the US will take back this irrational and discriminatory decision immediately and not deprive the UN of such a highly qualified individual. Rather, they should block petty acts of bigotry and vindictiveness and the further victimisation of the Palestinian people for the mere fact of their existence.’

Fayyad served as the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007-2013. According to UN officials, Fayyad has the support of 14 Security Council members. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is set to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on Wednesday, the same day US President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House.

The Israeli government has welcomed Trump’s presidency, as they believe they will more easily advance plans to expand Israeli settlements since Trump came forward as a vocal supporter of Israel and expressed opposition to a recently passed UNSC resolution that harshly condemned illegal settlements.

However, more recently, Trump has made statements critical of settlements, telling an Israeli newspaper on Friday that, ‘I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.’

• US President Donald Trump said on Friday that it was ‘too early’ to talk about his controversial campaign promise to move the US embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the interview, Trump refused to talk about it, saying it was too early to reveal any details. The prospect of an embassy location change has been met with applause by Israeli officials and strongly condemned by Palestinians and the international community.

The move would in effect amount to American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, torpedoing efforts to implement a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the ‘Judaisation’ of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.

On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a press conference that details regarding Trump’s controversial campaign promise to move the embassy would be shared ‘soon,’ without providing further details. Israeli media reported last Friday that renovations approved during Obama’s administration have been scheduled for the US embassy in Tel Aviv.

The now Republican-dominated US congress already introduced a bill that would move the US embassy to Jerusalem, as Republicans control both the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time since 2007. The US House of Representatives meanwhile approved a bipartisan resolution rejecting UN Resolution 2334, which strongly denounced Israel’s illegal settlement building in occupied Palestinian territory, and stated its unwavering commitment and support for the state of Israel.

Last month, Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat warned that the PLO would revoke all previously signed agreements with Israel as well as the PLO’s 1993 recognition of Israel if Trump followed through on his pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Erekat reportedly said such a move would indicate the US’s acceptance of ‘Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem,’ and further warned that ‘any hope of peace in the future will just vanish. While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right as many Knesset members have called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank some advocating for its complete annexation.

• On at least 52 occasions between January 24 and February 6th, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians present in, or approaching the Israeli-imposed Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and sea in Gaza, the UN said last Friday. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories said in a Protection of Civilians report that while no injuries were reported, the work of farmers and fishermen was repeatedly disrupted.

It said Israeli forces entered inside Gaza and carried out levelling and excavation activities near the perimeter fence, and, on another occasion, arrested two fishermen and requisitioned their boat.

In the West Bank, the report said the Israeli authorities demolished 19 Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on the grounds of a lack of building permits, displacing 67 people, including 38 children, and affecting the livelihoods of 36 others. Also citing the lack of the necessary permits, the Israeli authorities seized eight construction-related machines and 12 metres of pipes in four Area C communities, including a vehicle used in the implementation of a project funded by the occupied Palestinian territories Humanitarian Fund.

Also in in Kharas village, near Hebron, the Israeli authorities uprooted 500 Palestinian olive trees, stating that they were planted in areas designated as ‘state land.’ Another 26 Palestinian trees were damaged near Bruqin village in Salfit during the construction of a new water network to serve the Barkan settlement area. On 24 January, an Israeli settler organisation took over a storage room in the Old City of Jerusalem following an Israeli High Court ruling on 20 December 2016, affecting two families of eight people, including two children.