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Dhaka Tribune

Spain, Ireland and Norway recognize Palestinian state

  • Israel condemned the move, increasing tensions and prompting EU discussions on potential sanctions
  • Recognizing nations emphasize backing a two-state solution and condemned Hamas
Update : 28 May 2024, 07:08 PM

Spain, Ireland and Norway formally recognized a Palestinian state on Tuesday in a coordinated 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 strong symbolic impact that is likely to encourage others to follow suit.

After Ireland's government formally approved the measure, Prime Minister Simon Harris said the aim was to keep Middle East peace hopes alive.

"We had wanted to recognize Palestine at the end of a peace process. However, we have made this move alongside Spain and Norway to keep the miracle of peace alive," he said in a statement, urging Israel to "stop the humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza.

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

And after Spain's cabinet backed the move, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said it was a day that would be "etched in Spain's history."

Earlier, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said recognition was "essential" for peace, insisting the move was "not against anyone, least of all Israel" and the only way to secure a future of two states living side-by-side "in peace and security."

‘Incitement to genocide’

The plans were unveiled last week by the prime ministers of the three countries, sparking a furious response from Israel and further exacerbating its 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 the Israeli ambassador in Spain slammed 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 Sea 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 recognize a Palestinian state, you are participating in the incitement to commit genocide and war crimes against the Jewish people," he wrote on X.

On Sunday, Katz posted a video on X splicing footage of the October 7 resistance campaign with flamenco dancing, saying: "Sanchez: Hamas thanks you for your service."

Spain condemned the post as "scandalous and revolting."

On Tuesday, Spain's Albares said Israel's attacks on social media -- which had also targeted Ireland and Norway -- was an attempt to change the narrative.

He said all three nations would issue a "calm but firm" joint response.

Differences within the EU

Recognizing 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 recognize 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 recognize Palestinian statehood.

In 2014, Sweden became the first EU member to recognize 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.

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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