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Israel’s fury as three nations recognise Palestine

Ireland, Spain and Norway say they will recognise a Palestinian state on May 28, prompting an angry response from Israel which recalled its ambassadors from the three countries’ capitals.

May 23, 2024, updated May 23, 2024
Palestine flags at a US protest camp. Photo: AAP

Palestine flags at a US protest camp. Photo: AAP

Officials in Dublin, Madrid and Oslo painted the decision as a move aimed at accelerating efforts to secure a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

They urged other countries to follow suit although the United States, Israel’s main ally, stood by its position that a Palestinian state should be realised through direct negotiations and not “unilateral recognition”.

“We hope that our recognition and our reasons contribute to other western countries following this path, because the more we are, the more strength we will have to impose a ceasefire, to achieve the release of the hostages held by Hamas, to relaunch the political process that can lead to a peace agreement,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the only possible political solution between Israelis and Palestinians was “two states living side by side in peace and security”.

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said he did not expect the recognition to stop the war in Gaza but it was “a key component” for an Arab-led peace initiative.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Simon Harris told a Dublin press conference that Ireland remained unequivocal in recognising Israel’s right to exist “securely and in peace with its neighbours” and called for all hostages in Gaza to be freed.

The decision infuriated Israel, which says recognising a Palestinian state amounts to rewarding Hamas militants for the October 7 attack that triggered Israel’s offensive against the Palestinian militant group in Gaza.

“The intention of several European countries to recognise a Palestinian state is a reward for terrorism,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

“This would be a terrorist state. It would try to carry out the October 7 massacre again and again – and that, we shall not agree to,” he said.

“Rewarding terrorism will not bring peace and neither will it stop us from defeating Hamas.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the decision would carry “severe consequences” and ordered the immediate return of the Israeli ambassadors from the three countries for consultations.

The decision by the three European countries was welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli occupied West Bank, and by Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since driving the PA out of the enclave in 2007.

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About 144 of the 193 member-states of the United Nations recognise Palestine as a state, including most of the global south, Russia, China and India.

But only a handful of the 27 European Union members have done so, mostly former Communist countries as well as Sweden and Cyprus.

The United Kingdom, Australia and EU members Malta and Slovenia have indicated in recent months that they could soon follow suit.

Norway, which is not an EU member, was the host of the Oslo peace process 30 years ago that was intended to lead to a Palestinian state on territory captured by Israel in a 1967 war including the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

The last negotiations collapsed a decade ago.

Netanyahu has rejected a sovereign Palestinian state, despite the so-called “two-state solution” remaining the US policy objective.

The US, however, opposes recognising Palestine without an agreement reached at negotiations.

US President Joe Biden “is a strong supporter of a two-state solution and has been throughout his career,” a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said.

“He believes a Palestinian state should be realised through direct negotiations between the parties, not through unilateral recognition.”

Germany said it was a matter that required further dialogue while France said conditions had not yet been met.

Last month, the US vetoed recognising Palestine as a state at the United Nations, where the Palestinians now have observer status.

– AAP

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