IRISH premier Simon Harris has said that Ireland, along with Norway and Spain, has recognised Palestine has a “legitimate right to statehood”.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Harris said Ireland was making the move because “we believe in freedom and justice as fundamental principles of international law”.

It comes in the same week that the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it was seeking arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence minister Yoav Gallant and a number of senior Hamas figures.

Harris (below) said: “We said the point of recognising the state of Palestine was coming closer, that point has now arrived.

The National: Simon Harris has announced he will stand to be the next leader of Fine Gael (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Today, Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognise the state of Palestine.

“Each of us will now undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision.”

Harris added that Palestinians in Gaza are enduring “the most appalling suffering, hardship and starvation”.

“How can anyone justify children going to sleep at night, not knowing if they will wake up?”

The UK and the US are among nations that do not formally recognise a Palestinian state although earlier this year David Cameron suggested that the Government, alongside its allies, could "look at the issue of recognising a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations".

Harris added that it is "never the wrong time to do the right thing," saying: "I want to know in years to come, that Ireland spoke up, spoke out in favour of peace, in favour of a political settlement that allows children in Palestine, children in Israel, to live safely and in peace and security side-by-side.

"It has been the long-standing position of this country that a two-state solution is the way to bring peace to the Middle East."

In response to the news, Israel’s foreign affairs minister called the decision by Ireland and other nations to recognise Palestine a “distorted step”.

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Writing on Twitter/X, Israel Katz said: “I have instructed the immediate recall of Israel’s ambassadors to Ireland and Norway for consultations in light of these countries’ decisions to recognise a Palestinian state.

“I’m sending a clear and unequivocal message to Ireland and Norway: Israel will not remain silent in the face of those undermining its sovereignty and endangering its security.”

In Madrid meanwhile, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez (below) received applause in Parliament as he announced the news. 

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"We are going to recognise Palestine for many reasons and we can sum that up in three words - peace, justice and consistency," he said. 

"We have to make sure that the two-state solution is respected and there must be mutual guarantees of security. 

"It is essential that the two sides negotiate for peace and it is for this reason that we recognise Palestine."

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre also announced his country would recognise Palestine in a statement on Wednesday morning. 

He said Norway believes a two-state solution is in Israel's "best interests" and that the move will take effect quickly with Oslo recognising a Palestinian state by May 28. 

The National:

Scotland's former first minister Humza Yousaf was among those to react to the news, writing on Twitter/X: "Taoiseach @SimonHarrisTD, PM @jonasgahrstore & PM sanchezcastejon have shown courageous moral leadership this morning. 

"It is time other governments stopped paying mere lip-service to a two-state solution. The UK Government must now officially recognise the state of Palestine."

The Palestinian ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot said that "history is being made" following the announcement as he thanked Ireland, Spain and Norway for the move. 

"This will move us closer to justice and a sustainable peace," he said. 

"We urge the few remaining countries in the world, especially the UK, with its historic responsibility, to follow suit and provide a long overdue path out from occupation, colonisation, oppression and apartheid, to equality under law and accountability."