Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO
PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Irish FM Simon Coveney

The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ireland Simon Coveney has called for “new thinking” in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while on a trip to Israel.

Coveney, who has visited Israel four times since assuming office in 2017, told Israel Radio that a “solution now is probably not the same as what a solution looked like 20 years ago. A lot has happened in that time” and “new thinking” was necessary to end the stalemate in the peace process.

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Coveney added that the solution would have to be negotiated “as opposed to an enforced solution on Palestinians because they’re in a weaker negotiating position, perhaps, than Israel is,” while also acknowledging Israeli security concerns.

Irish-Israeli relations have been strained lately by the suggestion that Dublin may ban the import of products from Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, labeling them as settlement products. The Irish parliament had passed the bill in January, celebrated as a win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

Speaking to Israel Radio, however, Coveney stated that the Irish government had now “effectively blocked” the proposal from advancing. The law would have made it a criminal offense “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods,” into Ireland.

Relations between Ireland and Israel have traditionally been frosty, with the Irish government a frequent critic of Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. The two states established diplomatic relations in 1975, twelve years after Ireland recognized Israel.

In 2018, Coveney stated that the Republic of Ireland would recognize Palestine as a state if peace negotiations did not progress.

Ireland’s Foreign Minister met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening.

“They discussed regional issues and threats to the State of Israel, especially the Iranian threat, and recent developments vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu’s office stated.

Coveney is set to meet with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday.

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