The Government has decided to upgrade the status of the Palestinian diplomatic delegation in Ireland to a mission - a rank below an embassy.

'The Palestinian delegation will from now on be known as the Palestinian mission,' the spokeswoman said, saying it put Ireland in line with similar decisions announced by fellow EU members France, Spain and Portugal.

Israel later condemned Ireland's ‘long-standing biased policy on the Middle East’.

'We regret this Irish decision, though it comes as no surprise,' a foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.

'This will only strengthen the Palestinians' rejection of any return to direct dialogue and peace negotiations.'

France upgraded the Palestinians to the rank of mission in July last year, while Spain followed suit in September.