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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Israel unhappy with European recognition of Palestinian state

Three European countries—Ireland, Norway, and Spain—announced their intention to recognize the State of Palestine on May 28.

In a significant diplomatic shift, three European countries—Ireland, Norway, and Spain—announced their intention to recognize the State of Palestine on May 28. This planned move, coming over seven months into the devastating Gaza war, has drawn sharp reactions from both Israel and the international community.

European Leaders’ Rationale

The leaders of these nations articulated their motivations clearly. Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store emphasized that the recognition aimed to support “moderate forces” within the protracted and brutal conflict. He stressed the importance of maintaining the possibility of a two-state solution as the only viable path to lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of causing immense suffering and jeopardizing the two-state solution. He advocated that recognizing Palestine would reinforce efforts to revive peace talks. Similarly, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas but maintained that the two-state solution was the only way to break the cycle of violence and retaliation.

Israeli Backlash

Israel responded with strong condemnation, describing the recognition as a reward for terrorism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz denounced the move as an injustice to the memory of victims of Hamas’s attacks and accused the European nations of undermining Israel’s right to self-defense. Israel promptly recalled its envoys from Dublin, Oslo, and Madrid for urgent consultations and summoned the ambassadors of these countries for a rebuke.

Broader International Reactions

The Palestinian Authority and various Palestinian factions welcomed the European nations’ recognition. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), internationally regarded as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, hailed the decision as historical. Senior Hamas political bureau member Bassem Naim called it a turning point in the international stance on the Palestinian issue.

Many Arab and Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar, praised the move as a step towards supporting a two-state solution. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Gulf Cooperation Council also expressed their approval, urging other countries to follow suit.

Ongoing Conflict

The recognition comes amidst relentless fighting in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. The October 7 attack by Hamas resulted in over 1,170 deaths, mostly civilians, and the taking of 252 hostages by militants. Israel’s retaliatory offensive has led to over 35,647 deaths in Gaza, predominantly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. The siege imposed by Israel has pushed Gaza’s 2.4 million residents to the brink of famine.

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In Rafah, the last part of Gaza facing ground invasion, heavy fighting continues. Northern and central areas of Gaza are also experiencing intense battles. The World Health Organization reported that northern Gaza’s last two functioning hospitals are besieged, with over 200 patients trapped inside. Additionally, the occupied West Bank has seen deadly clashes, with recent Israeli raids in Jenin resulting in multiple Palestinian casualties.