22 May 2024, 19:55
Update : 22 May 2024, 23:32

Norway, Ireland, Spain to recognise Palestinian state

MADRID, May  22, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Norway, Ireland and Spain announced on
Wednesday they will recognise a Palestinian state from next week, highlighting
the deep split over the issue within the EU as the Israel-Hamas war rages.

The three nations hope other countries will follow, but France said that
now was not the right moment for it to take that step -- yet Paris noted
recognition was not "taboo".

This announcement by prime ministers Jonas Gahr Store of Norway, Pedro
Sanchez of Spain and Simon Harris of Ireland comes days after the International
Criminal Court prosecutor said he would seek arrest warrants for Israel's prime
minister and Hamas leaders.

Sanchez, who has visited several nations to drum up support for
recognition, said the move would reinforce efforts to revive a two-state
solution to the Middle East conflict, which he said Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu was jeopardising with the Gaza offensive.

"Fighting the Hamas terrorist group is legitimate and necessary after
October 7, but Netanyahu is causing so much pain, destruction and resentment in
Gaza and the rest of Palestine that the two-state solution is in danger,"
Sanchez told parliament.

Israel reacted with fury again, immediately recalling its envoys to the
three nations.

"The intention of several European countries to recognise a Palestinian
state is a reward for terror," Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said,
adding a sovereign State of Palestine would be a "terror state"
But the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) hailed the move as
"historical". Hamas praised what it called an "important step" that resulted
from the "brave resistance" of Palestinians.

According to the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the occupied
West Bank, 142 of the 193 UN members already recognise a Palestinian state.

- 'Only alternative' -

Sweden, which has a large Palestinian community, became the first European
Union member in western Europe to recognise Palestinian statehood in 2014.
A Palestinian state was recognised by Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic,
Hungary, Poland and Romania before they joined the EU.

Norway -- which has played a key role in Middle East diplomacy, hosting
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the 1990s which led to the Oslo Accords --
said recognition was needed to support moderate voices amid the Gaza war.

"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," Store said, adding that the moves could give renewed momentum for
peace talks.

Harris drew parallels with international recognition of the Irish state in

"From our own history, we know what it means," he went on, referring to
Ireland's declaration of independence from British rule, which eventually led
to formal statehood.

In March, Slovenia and Malta signed a statement with Spain and Ireland
expressing their willingness to recognise a Palestinian state.

Slovenia's government this month passed a decree on recognising a Palestine
state that will be sent to parliament for approval by mid-June.

- Not 'taboo' -

France said recognising a Palestinian state was not "taboo",but Paris
considers that now is not the right moment for it to do so.

Paris "does not consider that the conditions have been present to date for
this decision to have a real impact in this process," French Foreign Minister
Stephane Sejourne said in a statement,
Germany, which also advocates a two-state solution, argues such recognition
should be the result of direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict.

For decades, formal recognition of a Palestinian state has been seen as the
endgame of a peace process between Palestinians and Israel.

The United States and most Western European nations have said they are
willing to one day recognise Palestinian statehood, but not before agreement is
reached on thorny issues like final borders and the status of Jerusalem.

But after Hamas's October 7 attacks and Israel's retaliatory campaign in
Gaza, diplomats are reconsidering once-contentious ideas.

The attacks resulted left more than 1,170 dead, mostly civilians, according
to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures. Hamas also took 252
hostages, 124 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed more than 35,700 people in Gaza,
also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

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