Palestinians expect Irish support for their application to be recognized as a state at the United Nations in September, according to a senior politician.
Nabil Shaath, a former Palestinian Authority foreign minister, is in Ireland to lobby for support for his people’s bid for statehood.
He told reporters that Palestinians have ‘high expectations’ of official support from Ireland when they present their case to the UN.
“Ireland has been one of the most positive countries in relation to Palestinian rights and the Palestinian cause,” said Shaath in Dublin.
“Therefore the expectations in Palestine about Ireland are much higher.”
The United States has already indicated that it will veto any bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN Security Council.
To become a member of the UN, Palestine will require a recommendation from the Security Council and approval by two-thirds of the General Assembly.
In light of American opposition, the Palestinians plan to ask the general assembly to accept Palestine as a non-member observer state.
“We may have to start as an observer state, but that is still a state,” Shaath told the Irish Times.
“It would allow us membership of all the UN-related organisations including the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
“This would allow us a lot of freedom of action to put pressure on Israel to move towards serious negotiations, leading to an end to occupation and the achievement of a negotiated peace.”
Shaath’s visit to Ireland is part of a concerted plan by Palestinian Authority officials to lobby individual countries to recognise a Palestinian state. He says that almost 120 countries have already done so.
“This is part of a whole plan of non-violent struggle. We are moving to obtain more recognitions, to keep those who already recognise us motivated to vote for us, and to try to persuade other countries to stay neutral and not create obstacles for us,” he added.
Shaath also said that Palestinians are under no illusions as to what a declaration of statehood might lead to.
“Nobody believes that if we get recognition, we will get the Israelis out,” he said. “We have not promised that it will end the occupation. Recognition is useful, it is a process. It is not a one-shot affair.”