DUBLIN/MADRID - The Irish and Spanish premiers have had further discussions on the recognition of the state of Palestine.

Taoiseach Simon Harris and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez spoke by telephone on Monday morning following discussions in Dublin and Brussels last month.

Mr Harris said it was their third conversation in recent weeks, and that they are eager to make progress on this very shortly.

“We discussed the dire situation in the Middle East and particularly in Gaza and agreed to continue working together to push for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional and immediate release of all remaining hostages and for a surge in humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza,” he said.

“Prime Minister Sanchez and I shared our deep concern about reports that Israel has ordered an evacuation of civilians from parts of Rafah in preparation of a military operation.

“I reiterate my call on Israel not to undertake a full-scale military operation in Rafah. The international community has made it very clear that an Israeli military operation in Rafah will inevitably lead to disastrous humanitarian consequences and the deaths of large numbers of innocent civilians.

“The protection of civilians is an obligation under international humanitarian law.”

Mr Harris said the two men also “reaffirmed the wish for both Spain and Ireland to recognise Palestine”.

“I also discussed with Prime Minister Sanchez our ongoing work together on recognising the state of Palestine,” he said.

“We reaffirmed the wish for both Spain and Ireland to recognise Palestine, agreeing that formal recognition is an important part of acknowledging that a two-state solution is the only way to bring about peace and stability in the region, with a state of Palestine and the state of Israel living side-by-side in peace and security.

“Prime Minister Sanchez and I are both eager to make progress on this very shortly and we agreed to remain in close contact.

“We are co-ordinating efforts with other European states to recognise a Palestinian state alongside like-minded countries. This will be done in a way that can have the most positive impact on the situation on the ground.

“We also took stock of the work under way in New York on a resolution on Palestine’s membership of the UN. Ireland fully supports Palestinian membership of the UN.

“The UN General Assembly will consider this issue on May 10 and we expect a large majority of UN member to take a similar position.”