Israel Furious as Three European Nations Move to Recognize Palestinian State

Wed May 22 2024
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JERUSALEM: Israel reacted with fury after three European countries—Ireland, Norway, and Spain—announced on Wednesday that they would formally recognize the State of Palestine on May 28, more than seven months into the devastating Israeli bombardment campaign in Gaza since October 7.

Several countries in the Arab and Muslim world welcomed the decision which will pave the way for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Israel swiftly reacted to the announcement and condemned the decision. Israel said immediately that it was recalling its envoys to Dublin, Oslo and Madrid for “urgent consultations” and also summoned the three European ambassadors for a rebuke.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemned the move, asserting that it dishonors the memory of the victims of the October 7 attack.

Several Western governments, including the United States, express willingness to recognize Palestinian statehood in the future, they maintain that such recognition should follow resolution of key issues such as final borders and the status of Jerusalem.

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However, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store defended the recognition as a means of supporting moderate forces in the conflict and preserving the possibility of a two-state solution. “In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Two states, living side by side, in peace and security.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for endangering the two-state solution with actions causing “pain, destruction, and resentment” in Gaza and Palestine. Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris condemned the October 7 attack and emphasized the need of a two-state solution to break the cycle of violence.

The move to recognize Palestine by Ireland, Norway, and Spain brings the number of UN member countries recognizing Palestine to 142, according to the Palestinian Authority. According to the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the occupied West Bank, 142 of the 193 UN member countries already recognise a Palestinian state.

The Palestine Liberation Organization hailed the European decisions as “historical,” while Palestinian groups welcomed them as affirmations of their rights.

Hamas also welcomed “an important step towards affirming our right to our land”, while Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas political bureau member, said it will mark “a turning point in the international position on the Palestinian issue”.

Political analyst Ines Abdul Razek, who heads the Palestine Institute for Public Democracy labelled the decision symbolic but said it was “not a great victory”.

“What we need is actual measures, including sanctions and arms embargoes, that can stop the genocide, the erasure of our people and colonization of our land, which Israel has been conducting with total impunity,” said Abdul Razek.

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Since October 7 last year, Israel has launched a relentless bombardment campaign in Gaza that has killed at least 35,709 Palestinian people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

Israel also imposed a siege that has deprived Gaza’s 2.4 million people of most water, food, medical supplies and fuel, and brought much of the population to the brink of famine.

Heavy Israeli bombardment has raged around Rafah, the last part of Gaza to face a ground invasion, where an AFP team reported more air and artillery strikes early Wednesday.

Heavy bombardment have also rocked Gaza’s northern and central areas, and more Israeli air strikes have hit Gaza City, Jabalia and Zeitun.

The World Health Organization has said northern Gaza’s last two functioning hospitals, Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan, were besieged by Israeli forces, with more than 200 patients trapped inside.

Israeli troops began their ground assault on Rafah early this month, defying international opposition over fears for the more than one million civilians trapped in the city.

Israel has ordered mass evacuations from the city, and the UN says more than 800,000 people have fled.

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