Taoiseach Simon Harris. RollingNews.ie photo.

EDITORIAL: The Moral High Ground

Ireland, together with Spain and Norway, have taken to the moral high ground with regard to their recognition of a Palestinian State and the full range of mutual privileges and responsibilities that such recognition entails.

The recognition will mean Palestinian embassies in Dublin, Madrid and Oslo and Irish, Spanish and Norwegian diplomatic outposts in the West Bank.

But what of Gaza? The recognition of a Palestinian State includes the territory currently being mostly occupied and largely devastated by the Israeli Army.

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Diplomatic recognition is all very well, but if you are a starving Palestinian, or if you have lost loved ones as so many have, it hardly raises your day to an endurable level.

And, presumably, the recognition applies solely to the Palestinian Authority and not Hamas, which is recognized purely as a terrorist organization and was responsible for the cruel slaughter unleashed on October 7.

By giving diplomatic recognition, Ireland is effectively moving into the space between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas - and hopefully with sharp elbows.

On Tuesday, the day that Ireland's acceptance of Palestine into the international diplomatic fold became official, Taoiseach Simon Harris said Europe could be doing a “hell of a lot more” to exert pressure on Israel for a ceasefire in Gaza.

He said, and according to an Irish Times report, that Ireland had recognized Palestinian statehood along with other countries, not in the expectation that it would lead to a cessation in bombing of the enclave, but to build momentum towards a ceasefire to which he hoped other countries would now subscribe.

Said Harris: “If everybody says they want to see a cessation of violence – the United States says it, the European Union says it – it’s not enough to just say it. We have to challenge ourselves: what more can we do to make it effective,” adding that steps to date have been “ineffective” with children and their parents who are fleeing to some degree of safety “found themselves then bombed in that location of safety."

Mr. Harris, added the Times report, said Ireland, Spain and Norway were taking the step “to keep the two state solution alive at a time when others are sadly trying to bomb it into oblivion."

He said that there was an ongoing human catastrophe unfolding in Gaza and Rafah, adding that hunger was being used as a “weapon of war." He said there was a “new, despicable and disgusting trend” where Israel described bombardment of non-combatants as a “tragic mistake."

In April, he said this was the case with the bombing of aid workers, and in May, an air strike this week which resulted in “children being blown to death."

“What will June’s ‘tragic mistake’ be? And more importantly, what does the world intend to do to stop it happening."

There is no doubt that in taking the step of recognition and not doing so silently, Ireland has stepped up and out on the international stage in a most prominent way. The same has been the case with regard to the Russian war of imperialist aggression against Ukraine.

You know you have to be doing something right when the Russian embassy in Dublin accuses Ireland of engaging in “criminal behaviour” by supporting the seizure of Russian funds for use in Ukraine and should be prepared for an “inevitable response."

Earlier in May, EU member states, including Ireland, reached a deal to seize profits from Russia’s frozen assets to fund weapons and aid for Ukraine.

The money will come from the interest earned on the roughly €200 billion in Russian Central Bank funds held in the EU which were immobilized in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Suffice it to say, Russian ambassador Yuriy Filatov was not a happy man.

“The Irish Government has signed up for this unprecedented and illegal decision, which has nothing to do with the norms of international law and so-called ‘rules based order, hailed by Ireland,” he said

Ah, the irony of it all.

These are challenging times for sure but Ireland, small though it might be, is ready and prepared, along its European partners, to take on the big guys.

Ireland is standing tall on the moral high ground. Those big guys are standing on literal ground that is not theirs to stand upon.