Norway, Ireland, To Recognise Palestinian State, Israel Fumes

Lookman

Norway, Ireland and Spain have said they will recognise a “Palestinian state”, triggering a resounding condemnation from Israel which immediately recalled its ambassadors from the three European countries.

This recognition which is largely symbolic is due to the devastating war Israel is waging against Hamas in Gaza, which has so far killed about 35,000 people and injured nearly about 77,000 others while millions have been displaced from their homes, according to reports from Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza.

The announcements yesterday by the countries are not likely to have any impact on the war in Gaza – or the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians even though Norway said it would move to upgrade its representative office in the West Bank to an embassy.

Palestinians welcomed the announcements, stressing that it is an affirmation of their protracted desire for statehood in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which Israel seized in the 1967 Mideast war and still controls.

The recognition by the three countries will swell the number of countries that have recognised the Palestinian state which before now stood at 140 countries – more than two-thirds of the United Nations.

 Israel has faced intense criticism in recent times even by its most ardent allies over the war in Gaza, because of the growing humanitarian concerns even as this was compounded by threat of arrest that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has proposed against the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister, Yoav Gallant.

The ICC is also considering allegations of genocide in a case brought by South Africa, which Israel has vehemently denied.

The Israeli government also described the decision of the three European countries, accusing them of rewarding the militant Hamas group for its October 7, 2023 attack that triggered the war. Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the European ambassadors would watch grisly video footage of the attack.

Hamas militants had staged a daring attack on southern Israel and killed 1,200 people and took some 250 hostage. 

Days after Israel began its offensive against Hamas in Gaza and today the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have seized the Rafah crossing, said to be the last strong of the Hamas militants amid heavy fighting.

“History will remember that Spain, Norway, and Ireland decided to award a gold medal to Hamas murderers and rapists,” Katz said.

Netanyahu’s government, which is opposed to Palestinian statehood, says the conflict can only be resolved through direct negotiations, which collapsed over 15 years ago.

The international community has long viewed the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as the only realistic way to resolve the conflict, and in past weeks several European Union countries have indicated they plan to recognize a Palestinian state to further those efforts.

The United States and Britain, among others, have backed the idea of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel but say it should come as part of a negotiated settlement.

The announcements from Europe came in swift succession. Norway, which helped broker the Oslo Accords that kicked off the peace process in the 1990s, was the first to announce its decision, with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre saying “there cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition.”

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris called it an “historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine,” saying the announcements had been coordinated and that other countries might join “in the weeks ahead.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who announced his country’s decision before parliament, has spent months touring European and Middle Eastern countries to garner support for recognition, as well as for a possible cease-fire in Gaza.

“This recognition is not against anyone, it is not against the Israeli people,” Sánchez said. “It is an act in favor of peace, justice and moral consistency.” He said it was clear that Netanyahu “does not have a project for peace,” while acknowledging that “the fight against the terrorist group Hamas is legitimate.”

Their formal recognition is planned for May 28.

Hamas, which Western countries and Israel view as a terrorist group, does not recognise Israel’s existence but has indicated it might agree to a state on the 1967 lines, at least on an interim basis. Israel says any Palestinian state would be at risk of being taken over by Hamas, posing a threat to its security.

 

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