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Irish upgrade Palestinian diplomatic status

    The Irish government has upgraded the status of Dublin’s Palestinian diplomatic mission to that of an embassy, prompting concern that its European neighbours will follow suit.

    An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the move and expressed regret over it, but said it had not come as a surprise.

    Although the decision does not automatically mean Ireland officially recognises an independent Palestinian state, it does represent a break with the rest of the European Union.

    The move means that the head of the Palestinian mission in Ireland will be given ambassador status and will be able to present his credentials to Irish President Mary McAleese.

    In recent weeks eight countries in South America have offered unilateral recognition.

    Israeli politicians have already expressed concerns that if other EU countries upgrade diplomatic relations it will encourage the Palestinians to unilaterally declare independence.

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