Spain, Ireland, Norway announce they will recognise the State of Palestine

Copyright Mohammed Zaatari/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Mohammed Zaatari/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

The countries say the move is aimed at injecting new momentum into efforts to secure long-lasting peace in the war-torn region.

Three like-minded European countries – Spain, Ireland and Norway – have announced they will formally recognise the Palestinian state, seven months after the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

The highly symbolic move was coordinated between the three nations on Wednesday morning following months of negotiations between a group of European countries willing to take the step.

Speaking before the Spanish House of Representatives on Wednesday morning, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who had vowed to recognise Palestine by the month of June, announced Spain would recognise the State of Palestine next Tuesday, 28 May.

“The time to move from words to action has come,” Sánchez told the chamber. “To tell the millions of Palestinians that are suffering that we stand with them, that there’s hope, and that despite the walls that are erected, the villages that are bombed and the illegal settlements that are built, the land and the identity of the Palestinians still exist.”

Sánchez along with his Irish counterpart, Taoiseach Simon Harris, have been at the forefront of efforts to build a coalition of like-minded EU member states. Speaking at the same time in Dublin, Harris said: “This is a historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine.”

Irish foreign minister Micheál Martin announced on social media platform X that Dublin’s recognition would be official from May 28, as the country follows to move closely in tandem with Spain.

Norwegian prime minister Jonas Gahr Stoere also announced his country will formally recognise Palestine as a state earlier on Wednesday. “There can’t be peace without a Palestinian state,” Stoere told reporters in Oslo.

According to Euronews sources, Norway is likely to move in tandem with both Spain and Ireland to make the country’s official recognition effective from May 28.

Three other EU member states likely to follow suit shortly

European Union members Slovenia and Malta have also indicated in recent weeks that they may recognise Palestinian statehood, claiming it is vital to bring peace to the region. In March, both EU member states signed a joint declaration saying they stand ready to recognise Palestine with their Spanish and Irish counterparts on the margins of a summit in Brussels.

Slovenia’s government approved a decree on 9 May which allows it to recognise the Palestinian state, and prime minister Robert Golob has indicated that Ljubljana could formalise the move next month.

Belgium is also likely to follow suit soon, but refrained from signing the March declaration of intent as it currently holds the 6-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, responsible for overseeing its work and therefore likely restricted from signing such declarations.

‘Terrorism pays’

The move is opposed by Israel, which has claimed it will “fuel instability” in the Middle East. Israel Katz, the country’s foreign affairs minister, has recalled Israel’s ambassadors to Ireland and Norway for consultations, and has warned Spain that similar steps will be taken.

“I’m sending a clear and unequivocal message to Ireland and Norway: Israel will not remain silent in the face of those undermining its sovereignty and endangering its security,” he wrote in a statement shared on X.

“Today’s decision sends a message to the Palestinians and the world: Terrorism pays,” he also wrote, adding: “Israel will not remain silent – there will be further severe consequences.”

It comes against a backdrop of continued protests in support of the Palestinians in Gaza and mounting global condemnation of Israel’s harsh military offensive.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday said it was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Yoav Gallant, as well as several Hamas leaders, for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Netanyahu and Israel’s principal ally the US slammed the ICC move, with President Joe Biden calling it “outrageous”.

Palestinian statehood has been recognised by 139 out of 193 United Nations (UN) member states to date.

First proposed by the UN in 1947, the two-state solution envisions creating two separate nations: one for Jews (Israel) and one for Palestinians (Palestine). It would involve dividing the land, with each state having its own government. The goal is to allow both sides to live side by side peacefully and independently.

Israel’s war in Gaza has killed more than 35,500 people – mostly women and children – according to Palestinian authorities.

The fighting began on 7 October after Hamas’ surprise raid in southern Israel, which called 1,200 people. Again mostly civilians.

Around 125 hostages seized during the attack are still held by the militant Palestinian group.

Europe deeply split on Palestinian statehood

The move puts the EU’s highly divided stance on the war in Gaza and on the Palestinians’ protracted fight for statehood into sharp focus.

Nine of the EU’s 27 member states currently recognise Palestinians’ right to a state according to the so-called 1967 borders, which include the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

They include eastern states such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, as well as the island states of Cyprus and Malta.

They also include Sweden, which became the first member state to unilaterally recognise Palestinians’ right to statehood while a member of the EU in 2014.

But many of these countries made this recognition in 1988, and have since shifted their positions towards a staunch pro-Israeli stance, most notably Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and the Czech Republic’s Petr Fiala were among the first to censure the International Criminal Court’s decision to seek an arrest warrant for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant.

Hungary has also wielded its veto power to delay critical EU decisions in response to the conflict in Gaza, including sanctions on violent Israeli settlers and a joint appeal on Israel not to launch a full-scale operation on the town of Rafah.

Both Hungary and the Czech Republic were the only EU member states to vote against a UN General Assembly resolution to give “favourable consideration” to Palestine’s application for full UN membership on May 10.

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Categories: Alternative, Israel, Politics
Anton Nieuwenhuizen

Written by:Anton Nieuwenhuizen All posts by the author

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