Palestinian president visits state for talks with Higgins, Taoiseach and Coveney – The Irish Times

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Ireland this weekend to meet with President Michael D Higgins, the Taoiseach and the Foreign Minister.

It precedes an intense week of diplomatic engagements at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Mr Abbas will meet Mr Higgins on Saturday for a working dinner with Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Along with his foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki, the couple will also hold talks with foreign minister Simon Coveney on Sunday.

Two-state solution

Ireland – approaching the end of its two-year term on the United Nations Security Council – has long been a supporter of the two-state solution to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis, calling for a permanent and lasting ceasefire and lifting the blockade of Gaza.

While Israel accepts the right to defend its people, the Irish view is that this right does not override the rights of others and that any use of military force for self-defense must comply with international humanitarian law and be both discriminatory and proportionate.

Prior to his meeting with Mr Abbas, Mr Higgins spoke by telephone with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Friday. The pair spoke about Mr Herzog’s visit to Ireland in 2018.

Settlement activity

The Israeli leader is said to have expressed appreciation for the welcome his family received on the 100th anniversary of the birth of his father Chaim Herzog – a previous president of Israel – in Belfast.

A spokesman for Áras an Uachtaráin said: “The presidents discussed the position regarding the Middle East, including settlement activity, which endangers the prospects for peace, as well as recent actions regarding NGOs [non-governmental organisations].”

He said both Mr Herzog and Mr Abbas were aware of Mr Higgins’ contact with them and of the president’s view that it is important to discuss possible initiatives.

Higgins plans to resume talks with both presidents in the future.

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