The US should not be sending arms to Israel, the Irish premier has said.

Leo Varadkar is meeting US President Joe Biden at the White House on Sunday, at the end of a week of engagements which involved an earlier bilateral between the two leaders.

Mr Biden said he agreed with the Taoiseach’s calls for a ceasefire in Gaza “as soon as possible”.

However, speaking to reporters in Washington DC, Mr Varadkar said there were areas in which the two administrations remain at odds.

He said he made it “very clear” to Mr Briden that Israel’s continued military actions in Gaza were not self-defence.

Asked about the US continuing to supply Israel with weapons, Mr Varadkar said: “That’s something we don’t agree with, but the American government is a sovereign government that makes its own decisions.”

The Irish leader said the US was working “very hard” towards a ceasefire, but Mr Biden has stopped short of calling for an immediate end to hostilities.

Asked what he wanted to see happen in Gaza, Mr Varadkar said: “The most important and most urgent thing is the need for a ceasefire so that the killing can stop, so that the hostages can go home, so that food and medicine can get into the people that need it in Gaza.

“Once that happens, we would hope that it becomes possible to build a more permanent ceasefire.

US and Irish premiers
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, US President Joe Biden, and Speaker Mike Johnson leave after the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on Capitol Hill (Niall Carson/PA)

“I think everyone agrees that Hamas can’t be part of the governing of any Palestinian territory given what’s happened on October 7, but we don’t believe that it should be occupied by Israel.

“We certainly don’t believe it should be resettled by Israel. We believe it should be handed back over to Palestinian civilian control and unlike was the case since 2005, it shouldn’t be blocked by Israel.”

Mr Varadkar rejected an assertion that Ireland was seen as weak on both Israel’s right to defend itself as well as support for Ukraine.

He said: “What I’ve been encouraged by both here and then also in meeting recently in Europe is – if anything – people kind of encouraging us to stick by our stance and take the position that we’re taking.

“And I do think that a lot of people in America and across Europe agree with the position that we’re taking.

“Certainly on Ukraine, I think it’s recognised that Ireland has been a very strong supporter of Ukraine.

“We don’t provide military aid, but we help them in every other way imaginable, whether it’s accepting refugees, whether it’s financial support, non-lethal military aid, loans.”

On Sunday, Mr Varadkar will officially gift Mr Biden a bowl of shamrock as part of a long-running tradition for St Patrick’s Day.

Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks during the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon (Niall Carson/PA)

On Friday, the Irish premier met the US President for a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office.

The two leaders discussed the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, as well as Irish-US trade relations.

Asked afterwards if he believed Mr Biden was fit for an election campaign, Mr Varadkar said: “I do and he’s in very good form, very engaged and very sharp.”

The Taoiseach said he did not believe that he would be attending a mass with the president on Sunday which had been proposed in early discussions of the itinerary for the week.

However, he added that he “would have been happy to” attend if there was such an invite.