Israeli minister posts video of Irish dancers and Hamas fighters as Harris says decision to recognise Palestine ‘no surprise’

Taoiseach insists move was an effort to ‘try and create momentum towards a peace process’

Israel would not have been “surprised” by the Government’s decision to officially recognise the state of Palestine, Taoiseach Simon Harris has said.

Mr Harris said he believed it was the “right decision” and was an effort to “try and create momentum towards a peace process, that may seem far away but is absolutely essentially needed”.

Meanwhile an Israeli government minister claimed on Thursday Ireland’s decision was a reward for Hamas and posted a video edited to show Irish dancers and Hamas fighters as well as the Irish flag.

“A two-state solution is the only way to bring peace and stability to the people of Israel and the people of Palestine,” Mr Harris told reporters in Dublin on Thursday morning as he arrived for the inaugural Child Poverty and Wellbeing Summit at Dublin Castle.

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“What I would say very clearly, to the Israeli government, is we very much recognise the state of Israel and its right to live in peace and security, but you can absolutely say that and also say the next bit - that the people of Palestine have a right to live in peace and security and that the humanitarian catastrophe that’s unfolding in Palestine, in Gaza, needs to end.”

Mr Harris said he had a “very good conversation” with Israeli president Isaac Herzog last Friday, which was “firm but respectful”.

“We exchanged views, I outlined the Irish position. So I don’t think anybody in the world, least of all Israel, would have been surprised by the decision that Ireland, Norway and Spain took yesterday,” he said.

The Government’s decision to officially recognise the state of Palestine on Wednesday was widely welcomed by many civil society groups, Opposition parties and supporters of Palestine.

However, Israel and its supporters fiercely criticised the move, with Israel’s minister of foreign affairs Israel Katz claiming in a post on X that it was a reward for Hamas. In the post Mr Katz tagged Mr Harris saying: “Ireland, if your goal was to reward terrorism by declaring support for a Palestinian state, you’ve achieved it. @SimonHarrisTD, Hamas thanks you for your service.”

The post was accompanied by a video edited to show the Irish flag, Irish dancers and Hamas fighters with traditional Irish music playing over it.

The Israeli response is expected to be discussed in the coming days when ambassador Dana Erlich returns to Jerusalem for consultations with the foreign ministry there. It is understood that options which include restricting access for Irish NGOs to the West Bank, and to Gaza after the conflict, will be on the table.

Israel will reprimand the ambassadors of Ireland, Norway and Spain on Thursday over their governments’ plan to recognise a Palestinian state, an Israeli official said.

The envoys have been summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, where they will be shown a previously unpublished video of Hamas taking female captives during its October 7th attack on Israel that triggered the Gaza war, the official said.

Israel has also recalled its own ambassadors in Dublin, Oslo and Madrid for consultations.

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