Ireland should recognise Palestine if peace talks fail

Paul Gillespie’s article in the Irish Times on January 16th suggests that Ireland should recognise Palestine if the peace talk fail again.


He says

“It would be a symbolic move, helping to put international pressure on the Israelis and could usefully be debated in the general election campaign.”

Amid the turbulence currently afflicting the Middle East and north Africa it is all too easy to overlook the continuing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

There is little or no prospect of talks on a two-state settlement getting going again soon. Recent violence in which more than 130 people have died warns how a political vacuum could be filled. Can anything be done internationally to avoid that?

Ten years ago many would have said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the key to unlocking others in the region, or made it more pivotal than now. Rarely is that case argued these days. The 2011 Arab rebellions were concerned with their own societies and dictators. Leverage by larger regional powers like TurkeyIranEgypt and Saudi Arabia was applied more to Iraq and later Syria. Israel’s growing economic and political strength gave it an opportunity to find common interests with some of these powers.

These had their own reasons to fear regional spillover, like the growth of Hamas in Gaza and its links to Muslim Brotherhoods elsewhere. Solidarity with the Palestinians took second or third place in such rankings.

During these years of rule mostly by Likud-dominated coalitions led by Binyamin Netanyahu (now in his fourth term as prime minister) Israeli control of the West Bank has been consolidated by Israeli settlements there and in East Jerusalem. They number half a million people in a Palestinian population of 2.7 million.

The 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza inhabit one of the world’s most densely populated territories. As is well known the West Bank Palestinians are both divided and controlled by these settlements, which have their own reserved highway, separation wall and have security protection by the Israeli defence forces.

The Palestinian population is ostensibly ruled by the Palestinian Authority, led by 80-year-old Mahmoud Abbas. It is widely discredited by corruption and feuding over who is to succeed him, having been brought into being to oversee delivery of a two-state settlement in the 1990s, which has so conspicuously failed to emerge.

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