DUBLIN - Europe could be doing a “hell of a lot more” in bringing about a ceasefire in Gaza and on sanctioning Israel, the Irish premier has said.

Simon Harris made the comments on the day that Ireland is to formally recognise a Palestinian state in a joint move with Norway and Spain.

The Palestinian flag has been flown at the home of the Irish Parliament, Leinster House, and four hours have been set aside in the Irish parliament’s lower chamber to hear TDs’ statements.

Speaking as he arrived for the Cabinet meeting where the Government will agree to the formal recognition, the Taoiseach said the European Union has the power to sanction Israel but that it needs to do more to bring an end to the violence.

“Europe could be doing a hell of a lot more and Europe needs to do a lot more in relation to this,” the Fine Gael leader said.

It comes as EU foreign ministers engage in significant discussions this week on sanctioning Israel if it fails to comply with international humanitarian law.

“We have an association agreement that is effectively a trade benefit agreement between Europe and Israel, and I am very confident that the overwhelming majority of people in this country would like to see that agreement reviewed from a human rights point of view,” Mr Harris added.

He described the decision to recognise the Palestinian state as “historic and important”.

“This is an important moment and I think it sends a signal to the world that there are practical actions you can take as a country to help keep the hope and destination of a two-state solution alive at a time when others are trying to sadly bomb it into oblivion,” he said.

“I am conscious though, as we take this historic and important decision today, of the ongoing human catastrophe unfolding in the Middle East, in Gaza, in Rafah. I am conscious of the devastation being caused by people being deprived of food, starvation, and hunger being used as a weapon of war.

“Unfortunately we now have a new despicable and disgusting trend emerging where, every now and again, in particular when absolute horror seems to take place, the Prime Minister of Israel (Benjamin Netanyahu) comes out and describes it as a ‘tragic mistake’.

“April’s ‘tragic mistake’ was the bombing to death of aid workers trying to provide food to starving mouths, May’s ‘tragic mistake’, yesterday, was children being blown to death while seeking protection in a displaced centre.

“What will June’s ‘tragic mistake’ be? And more importantly what does the world now intend to stop it happening?

“For many weeks I have consistently been making the point at every meeting I have been at, including the European Council meeting, and my meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, and in many conversations with European prime ministers, that we need to use every lever at our disposal to bring about a ceasefire and to stop the violence.”

Ireland will recognise a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, the culmination of months of diplomatic work that began in December.

The Palestinian Mission in Ireland is to be upgraded to an embassy and a Palestinian ambassador to Ireland will be appointed.

Ireland will upgrade its Representative Office of Ireland in Ramallah to an embassy, and redesignate the Irish Representative to Palestine as the Ambassador of Ireland to the State of Palestine.

Mr Harris said he hopes the move will encourage other EU member states to take the same step.

He said other European countries are considering recognising the Palestinian state.

“I would really encourage them to do because we must know create momentum towards peace and cessation of violence,” he added.

Earlier this week, Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Dana Erlich claimed Ireland’s move to recognise a Palestinian state is worrying Israeli investors in the Irish IT services sector.

Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin said the idea that recognising the state of Palestine is anti-Israel is “absurd”.

“It doesn’t make any sense to make that accusation or that assertion,” he said on Tuesday.

“The reason why more European Union states are coming to the recognition question is because of clear evidence that the Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has sought to undermine the concept of a two-state solution which everybody, a decade ago, had agreed with.

“Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is against that, and people are running out of patience in that respect and we are not going to allow the viability and prospect of a two-state solution to be ended just by the Israeli government’s intransigence.”

Mr Martin also said that he expected more EU member states to recognise the state of Palestine “in the coming while”.

He added: “I think the decision by Ireland, Norway and Spain has been a catalyst for others to consider their position.”

The current ambassador in Dublin, Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid, said the move “gives hope” and it is “the right time” to recognise a Palestinian state.

“I am looking forward to seeing the flag flying on Leinster House. It’s a big moment,” she said.

Israel’s foreign affairs minister, Israel Katz, reacted to the planned recognition by issuing a “severe demarche” to the Irish, Spanish and Norwegian ambassadors to Israel.

Mr Harris previously criticised Israel’s treatment of Ireland’s ambassador, Sonya McGuinness, who was shown footage in front of Israeli media in a manner said to be “outside the norm” of how diplomats are treated.