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The recognition of Palestine “does not reflect the vision of the GF bases”

Fine Gael members have launched an attack on Taoiseach Simon Harris for recognizing Palestinian statehood, saying the move does not reflect the views of the party’s grassroots.

A private meeting of Fine Gael senators and TDs heard criticism from two senior figures, Paul Kehoe and John Paul Phelan, who criticized the Cabinet’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state.

Mr Kehoe is understood to have criticized the lack of discussion on the issue at recent party meetings, saying no decision was made on whether this was Fine Gael’s position.

Wexford FG TD Paul Kehoe is understood to have criticized the lack of discussion on Palestine recognition at recent party meetings.  File Image: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Wexford FG TD Paul Kehoe is understood to have criticized the lack of discussion on Palestine recognition at recent party meetings. File Image: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Phelan is understood to have raised the recent Fine Gael ard fheis, where grassroots members of the party voted against a motion calling for the party to support recognition of a Palestinian state. The motion also called on the Government to implement the Occupied Territories Bill.

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD also expressed concern that the decision to recognize Palestine could lead to Israeli companies deciding to leave Ireland.

A source who attended the meeting described the atmosphere as “tense.”

However, Harris was not present and criticism was received by Fine Gael deputy leader Heather Humphreys and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Donohoe defended the Government’s decision, saying it was a confidential Cabinet decision, while adding that Harris would update Fine Gael TDs on the matter at the party’s next parliamentary meeting.

Ms Humphreys is understood to have also defended the decision, saying the Government had recognized the Palestinian state, rather than any specific Palestinian government.

In her announcement Wednesday, Harris said it was a “historic and important day.”

He said the recognition is “an act of powerful political and symbolic value.”

“It is an expression of our view that Palestine possesses and should be able to claim all the rights of a state – including self-determination, self-government, territorial integrity and security – as well as recognize Palestine’s own obligations under international law.” Mr. Harris said.

The Taoiseach added that this was a statement of “unequivocal support” for a two-state solution.

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