19th July 2024
Foreign News

Ireland, Spain, Norway Moves to recognise Palestine As A Sovereign State

The leaders of Ireland, Spain and Norway have said that they will officially recognise Palestine as a state. In response, Israel has recalled its ambassadors to Ireland and Norway.

The co-ordinated move, which was soon followed by Spain, underscores how Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza is focusing global attention on the issue of statehood for Palestinians and hurting Israel’s relations with other nations.

“Israel will not be complacent against those who undermine its sovereignty and endanger its security,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Wednesday in a statement. “Ireland and Norway intend to send a message to the Palestinians and the whole world today: Terrorism pays.”

He put out his statement moments before Spain also said it will formally recognize an independent state in the areas comprising Gaza and the West Bank. Around 140 countries already recognize a Palestinian state, but until now very few in Europe.

“This is an historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine,” Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris told reporters on Wednesday morning. “It is an expression of our view that Palestine holds and should be able to vindicate the full rights to the state, including self determination, self governance, territorial integrity and security.”

Harris and his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez both reiterated calls for an end to the war in Gaza that’s now in its eighth month and which has devastated the Mediterranean enclave. They and Norway have been among the European countries most critical of Israel for continuing the conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the war is necessary to destroy Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union.

The conflict erupted last year after Hamas fighters from Gaza swarmed into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage. Since then, Israel’s air and ground offensive on Gaza has killed more than 35,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Netanyahu has consistently ruled out allowing an independent Palestinian state. Since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, he’s said such a move would reward terrorism and be a threat to the Jewish state’s security. Polls suggest the majority of Israeli citizens are also against a two-state solution.

Yet the move by the three European nations is significant and shows how pressure on Israel is rising.

Harris and Sanchez held bilateral talks in Dublin last month and the two reiterated their intention to recognize a state of Palestine and to gather international support for a two-state solution.

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In March, the leaders of Slovenia and Malta as well as Spain and Ireland met in Brussels. They issued a joint statement saying a two-state solution was “the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region.”

Ireland’s position had already led to tensions with Israel. Harris discussed the plan to recognize Palestine with Israeli president Isaac Herzog in a phone call on Sunday. Harris has insisted that he did not want to see Ireland’s diplomatic relations with Israel severed as a result of the move.

Sanchez has also been highly critical of Israel’s military action in Gaza.

Relations between Israel and Spain have also been tense. In November, Israel recalled its ambassador to Madrid after Sanchez made public statements saying he had serious doubts that Israel was complying with international law. Sanchez also told Netanyahu that the number of deaths in Gaza was “unbearable,” adding that Spain also suffered terrorism in the past and it can’t be stopped by force alone.

The US, Israel’s most important ally, also backs a two-state solution, but says that can only come about through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In recent months, President Joe Biden’s signaled a state of Palestine could be created with strict limits on its military forces so as to reassure Israel, which controls many aspects of security in Gaza and the West Bank, including their air space.

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