Ireland may recognise Palestinian statehood earlier than expected, the country's foreign minister revealed as he announced his backing for the proposal.
Charlie Flanagan spoke after Ireland became the latest European Union (EU) country to vote on a symbolic motion which called on their government to recognise the state of Palestine, joining Britain, France and Spain who have taken similar action in recent months.
"Achieving and recognising a Palestinian state has always been the objective of the Irish government. Everything we do in the Middle East is directed towards that aim," said Charlie Flanagan.
Flanagan lauded Sweden for their recognition of Palestinian statehood and bringing all EU members to the table to discuss the issue. He added that he endorsed the possibility of early recognition if it furthered the possibility of sealing a settlement to the conflict.
"While successive governments have always seen recognition coming as part of an agreed peace, I've made it clear that I've absolutely no difficulty in principle with the idea of early recognition, if I believe it can contribute to achieving a settlement of the conflict. The present stalemate is not acceptable to me," Flanagan said.
However, Ireland's top diplomat added that the main goal of the Irish government's policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to restart negotiations between the two parties.
"First our priority goal is to work to begin or, indeed, resume a process of real negotiations between the parties," he said. "Despite previous failures and consequent deep frustration, our own experience tells us that this is the only way that conflict can be resolved, and a fully functioning Palestinian state on all of its territory established."
The authors of the motion, Sinn Fein, celebrated the passing of the symbolic motion, with the party's leader Gerry Adams tweeting: "Long live Palestine!".
Last week, Israel banned Irish politician Gerry Adams from visiting the Gaza Strip as he had planned to visit the embattled area during a three-day long trip to the region.
The Irish nationalist said he was "disappointed" by the decision, for which Israel had provided no explanation, and said that the Palestinian people have a "right to national statehood".
"The decision by the Israeli authorities to refuse me entry into Gaza is deeply disappointing, particularly as I was able to spend two days there in 2009."
"The people of Palestine have the right to national statehood. It's not an issue for negotiation. It is a principle and a right. The international community has an obligation to support this and to uphold international law."