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Irish Senate calls for recognition of Palestine

Motion calls on Irish government to 'do everything it can to help secure a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict'
A general view of Leinster House which houses the Seanad chamber, also known as the upper house of the Irish parliament, is pictured in Dublin, Ireland, on 2 October 2, 2013 (AFP)

The Irish Senate has called on the government to recognize the State of Palestine.

Just weeks after British lawmakers also voted to recognise Palestine, Ireland’s upper house of parliament passed the motion without a vote.

However, as in the UK, the motion is non-binding and symbolic. 

The motion said: "Seanad Éireann calls on the Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine and do everything it can at the international level to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."  

The motion was proposed by Irish conservative party Fianna Fáil’s Averil Power and was signed by 31 of the upper house’s 60 members.

Power proposed the motion and criticised Israel, saying it was operating an "apartheid regime." She said it was important that the international community "send out a clear message of support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination."

Before the vote the Israeli ambassador to Ireland said he had contacted senators to urge them to vote against the motion.

"Stunt gestures such as recognising 'Palestine' unilaterally are counter-productive because they only provide excuses to those on the Palestinian side who hope to achieve their goals without talking directly with Israel," the Israeli ambassador said in a statement. 

Israel tweets back

The Israeli Embassy also tweeted a series of messages on Thursday saying, "Today, a Palestinian man murdered a 3 month old Jewish baby in Jerusalem. And yesterday the Irish Seanad has passed a motion... calling on the Government to recognise the state of Palestine without direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians... Just imagine if any country would have recognized one of the sides in Northern Ireland... before the peace process started in Belfast and equal esteem had been agreed upon..."

Freda Hughes, spokesperson for the Irish solidarity campaign with Palestine, commented: "We welcome this move on behalf of Seanad Eireann which follows on from recent votes in the British and Swedish parliaments. This is an important expression of support for Palestinian statehood and peace in the region in a highly symbolic, yet extremely effective, manner."

 "While symbolic actions such as this recognition are important and welcome, they are not a substitute for concrete and meaningful action," Hughes added.

The solidarity campaign continues to urge the Irish government to impose political and economic sanctions on Israel until it ends its occupation of Palestine and abides fully by its obligations under international law.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on October 3 that his country would be the first in Europe to recognize the State of Palestine.

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