Spain, Norway, Ireland Approve Palestinian State

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Spain and Norway on Tuesday formally recognised a Palestinian state, with Ireland due to follow suit, in a decision slammed by Israel as a “reward” for Hamas, more than seven months into the devastating Gaza war.

The three European countries believe their initiative has a strong symbolic impact that is likely to encourage others to follow suit.

As Oslo’s formal recognition went into effect, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide hailed the move as “a special day for Norway-Palestine relations”.

“Norway has been one of the most fervent defenders of a Palestinian state for more than 30 years,” he added.

Shortly afterwards, Spain followed suit, with government spokeswoman Pilar Alegria confirming the cabinet had formally recognised Palestinian statehood, qualifying it as “a historic day”.

Earlier, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said such recognition was “an essential requirement” for peace, insisting the move was “not against anyone, least of all Israel” and was the only way to secure a future “Palestinian state living side-by-side with the state of Israel in peace and security”.

The decision also reflected Spain’s “outright rejection of Hamas, which is against the two-state solution” and whose October 7 attacks led to the Gaza war, he added.

Ahead of his own cabinet meeting, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said it was “an important moment” that sent a signal “that there are practical actions you can take as a country to help keep the hope… of a two-state solution alive

Incitement to genocide’ –

The plans were unveiled last week by the prime ministers of the three countries, sparking a furious response from Israel, further exacerbating diplomatic tensions, notably with Spain.

Last week, Sanchez’s far-left deputy Yolanda Diaz hailed the move saying: “We cannot stop. Palestine will be free from the river to the sea”, which Israel’s Madrid envoy denounced as a “clear call for the elimination of Israel”.

The slogan refers to the British mandate borders of Palestine, which stretched from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean before Israel was created in 1948.

On Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz went even further.

“Sanchez, as long as you don’t fire your deputy and you recognise a Palestinian state, you are participating in the incitement to commit genocide and war crimes against the Jewish people,” he wrote on social media.

On Sunday, Katz posted a video online splicing footage of the October 7 attacks with flamenco dancing, saying: “Sanchez: Hamas thanks you for your service.”

Spain condemned the post as “scandalous and revolting”.

On Monday, Katz initiated the first of a series of “preliminary punitive measures”, ordering Spain’s Jerusalem consulate to stop offering consular services to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Differences within the EU

Recognising Palestinian statehood has provoked sharp disagreement within the 27-nation European Union.

For decades, formal recognition of a Palestinian state has been seen as the endgame of a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Washington and most Western European nations have said they are willing to one day recognise Palestinian statehood, but not before agreement on thorny issues like the status of Jerusalem and final borders.

The Gaza bloodshed has revived calls for Palestinians to be given their own state.

Tuesday’s move will mean 145 of the United Nations’ 193 member states now recognise Palestinian statehood.

In 2014, Sweden became the first EU member to recognise a Palestinian state.

It followed six other European countries that took the step before joining the bloc: Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

On October 7, Hamas fighters stormed into southern Israel in an assault that killed more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza. The Israeli army says 37 of them are dead.

Israel’s relentless retaliatory offensive has killed more than 36,000 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

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