Patrick J. O Brien

Irish Prime Minister ‘political ploy’ has no beneficial effects for peace in the middle east

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris at Dail Eireann (Image courtesy of author)
Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris at Dail Eireann (Image courtesy of author)

Patrick J O Brien reports that the Irish government’s blinkered decision to recognise the state of Palestine at this time is seen a negation of a country’s right to defend themselves against terrorists 

With European and local elections behind him, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris must have been aware that his decision to recognise the state of Palestine would play straight into Hamas’s hands and the voting Irish public, and so it did. Shortly after the announcement senior Hamas official Bassem Naim took credit and lauded this move as a tribute to ‘the brave resistance of the Palestinians’. In Ireland, voters rallied for his political party in local and European elections, young voters content to see he was supporting what is seen as the ‘underdog’ in the Middle East conflict. For once, the Irish government has done something it promised. The problem is that it’s precisely the wrong thing, at precisely the wrong time.  

Thomas Hand’s daughter, Emily Hand, was abducted by Hamas while at a sleepover in Kibbutz Be’eri. The nine-year-old was released in November 2023 after spending 50 days, and her ninth birthday, as a hostage in Gaza. Her father an Irish Israeli citizen says he is “embarrassed and ashamed to be Irish” after Ireland officially recognized the State of Palestine. 

It does in many ways expose the moral bankruptcy within Irish government, a gene which has seep through Irish politics for years. Douglas Hyde, Ireland’s president during the Second World War offered condolences to Germany’s representative in Dublin over the death of Adolf Hitler, a gesture criticised worldwide. Its decision to maintain cordial relations with the Nazis even after news of the Holocaust emerged shows that Ireland was on the wrong side of history then and are on the wrong side of history now. 

Simon Harris, Europe’s youngest prime minister is seen to be hugely unpopular amongst the Irish public. His government’s failure to cope with the country’s mammoth housing crisis and an escalating resentment about record levels of illegal immigration, which have even seen ‘tent cities’ full of migrants appear on the streets of Dublin, has placed his back firmly to the wall. His political party and that of the coalition were expected to be absolutely battered at local and European elections which meant he personally needed a win. And this is the win he decided to pick regardless of the diplomatic fallout, and it seems it has paid off. He seems to have forgotten though that Israel is the only democracy in the region.  

There is no denying that in a country with its own history of a seemingly intractable conflict, most people in Ireland are indeed sympathetic to Palestinians. Ireland’s solidarity with Palestinian people is not a “like for like” reflex.  

In many respects, the Prime Minister move amounts to little more than a token gesture because, while many countries recognise the principle of a Palestinian state, there is also an acceptance that the establishment of a fully-functioning, independent Palestine will not be achieved until comprehensive peace talks are convened to resolve the long-standing Israel-Palestine struggle. 

It is for this reason that the American and British governments, while sympathetic to Palestinian aspirations, say they will hold off from recognising Palestinian statehood until a long-term political solution to the Middle East conflict is agreed. 

The Palestinians are a long way from a state according to conventional criteria. Why did the three European governments nevertheless decide to recognize one? The answer is simply political. 

For too long the world has spoken of a two-state solution while allowing Israel to build a one-state reality. This has suited extremists in Israel and Palestine who deny the other country’s right to exist. It is time to end the empty rhetoric and implement a serious peace plan that undermines extremists 

The Palestinian people have made it clear they are looking for a one-state solution. That is what their opinion polls tell us, and it is even what the maps in their school textbooks tell us. The Irish government would be advised to listen to what Palestinians themselves are saying. The Palestinian leadership has told the world time and time again what they want, and it is not a democratic, two-state coexistence. Hamas and their Palestinian supporters openly celebrated the butchery of Jewish children, women, and men. They still glory in their evil deeds and in fact have openly declared their intent to do so again in the future. 

Rewarding Hamas evil deeds and evil intentions by illegally conferring statehood on them puts the clock back and could ignite more tensions. Terrorism is the biggest menace the world is facing today. We must ensure that the countries that support and help terrorists are also held to account, and this problem must be dealt in a united manner. 


About the Author
Patrick J O Brien is an acclaimed journalist and Director of Exante who has been working in the media for almost 25 years. Patrick who hails from Ireland is based in Malta and a contributor to some of the world’s leading financial and political magazines. Recently he returned from Ukraine where he was reporting at ground level on the escalation of war and spent time documenting the work of the Red Cross and many human right organisations