Palestinians, Egypt, Saudi Arabia welcome Irish move to recognise statehood

PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas lauds Norway and Ireland for support over many years

Palestinian political leaders and officials from other parts of the Arab world welcomed Wednesday’s recognition of the state of Palestine by Ireland, Norway and Spain, and praised these countries for acting during Israel’s deadly and devastating Gaza war.

Hussein al-Shaikh, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), declared on X that the action marked a historic moment in which “the free world triumphs for truth and justice after long decades of Palestinian struggle, suffering, pain, occupation, racism, murder, oppression, abuse and destruction”.

The Fatah-led PLO comprises 11 secular factions and excludes Muslim fundamentalist Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The PLO has dominated the Palestinian national movement since its founding in East Jerusalem on May 28th, 1964 – exactly 60 years before the tripartite recognition will take effect.

The office of President Mahmoud Abbas expressed appreciation for the countries’ decision to “consecrate the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination on their land”. Mr Abbas considered this a concrete step “in support of the implementation of the two-state solution” involving the emergence of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. He lauded Ireland and Norway for backing Palestinian rights over many years.


The Palestinian foreign ministry said these recognitions “are in line with international law and all relevant United Nations resolutions” and will contribute to ending Israel’s occupation and achieving “peace and stability in the region”.

Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told a French news agency the steps “are the direct result of the brave resistance and the legendary steadfastness of the Palestinian people. We believe this will be a turning point in the international position on the Palestinian issue.”

On behalf of the 22-member Arab League, secretary general Ahmed Aboul Gheit thanked the three nations for “their courageous stance, positioning themselves favourably in the historical narrative of [the Arab-Israeli] conflict”.

Six-state Gulf Co-operation Council chief Jasem Albudaiwi called the recognition “a pivotal and strategic step towards achieving the two-state solution”.

After the European countries declared their recognition, Jordan’s foreign minister Ayman Safadi said on X that “the radical Israeli government announced more illegal measures that kill all prospects” of a Palestinian state.

Egypt’s foreign ministry said recognition will bolster efforts to establish a Palestinian state and support the legitimate right of Palestinians to overcome Israeli occupation.

The Saudi foreign ministry called on other states to follow the three countries’ lead.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, independent Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti said recognition by these three European countries is a “powerful political and symbolically significant step” that advanced “freedom and justice” for the Palestinian people”. He said it “confirms that Palestine is a state under occupation” by countering the situation created by illegal Israeli settlements.

“Any efforts of the occupying power to change facts on the ground are meaningless and will not have an impact in the long run,” he said. “This is also a blow to [Israeli prime minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and shows that extremism in the Israeli government has no future.”

A Palestinian ministate in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem was proclaimed in Algiers on November 15th, 1988, and was promptly recognised by dozens of Arab, Muslim and developing nations.

In practice, parts of the West Bank are governed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, while the separate Gaza Strip has been under Hamas control since 2007. East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank are under direct Israeli control.

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen contributes news from and analysis of the Middle East to The Irish Times