DThe new leader of the Irish ruling party Fine Gael, Simon Harris, who is also due to be elected Prime Minister in the Dublin Parliament this Tuesday, has taken a sharp tone towards Israel. Harris told a party conference in Galway that Ireland condemned the Hamas massacre last October and continued to demand the immediate release of all hostages. But “we cannot and will not remain silent about Israel’s actions”: reason has been replaced by retaliation, and by the bombing, mutilation and killing of children. For this he received applause from his party.

Harris addressed the Israeli Prime Minister in dramatic words: “Mr Netanyahu, the Irish nation could not say more clearly: We are disgusted by your actions.” A two-state solution to the peaceful resolution of the conflict has been necessary since. He also said: “Ireland stands ready to recognize the State of Palestine.”

Harris' rise to the top of Fine Gael was made possible by the surprising departure of previous Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and made easier by long-standing minister Simon Coveney's decision not to continue in the cabinet.

Harris: Accepting the Ukrainians was the right thing to do

Coveney, who currently holds the economic portfolio but was long Irish foreign minister, spoke out against moves in his party to impose an embargo on goods originating from Israel over its settlement policy in the occupied territories. The opposition Sinn Fein, but also the two government partners Fianna Fail and the Greens support a corresponding bill. A motion at the party conference that Fine Gael should give up resistance to the initiative was rejected by the majority.

The same applied to the suggestion that the Irish government should supply Ukraine with offensive weapons in the future. So far, neutral Ireland has rejected such requests, but has made a point of showing solidarity by accepting numerous Ukrainian refugees and by supporting the elimination of the consequences of war, such as clearing mines.

Harris asserted that accepting the Ukrainians was the right decision. Coveney, who was followed by the majority of the party conference in his argument against arms deliveries, stated that Ireland was also participating in the EU's military equipment through its share of the EU's Ukraine aid, and that it only wanted its share of the aid for investments such as uniforms and Know protective equipment used.