Israel & Palestine

Ireland, Norway to join Spain in ‘historic decision’ to formally recognise a Palestinian state

Author: Editors Desk
May 28, 2024 at 07:22

Spain, Ireland and Norway will formally recognise a Palestinian state on Tuesday in what Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday called a "historic decision". The move has been slammed by Israel as a "reward" for Hamas more than seven months into the devastating Gaza war.

Video by: Sarah MORRIS

By joining more than 140 of the 193 UN member states that recognise a Palestinian state, SpainIreland and Norway said they sought to accelerate efforts to secure a ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza.


Among the UN's 193 members, 146 countries recognise Palestinian statehood.
Among the UN's 193 members, 146 countries recognise Palestinian statehood. © Studio Graphique France Médias Monde


The three European countries believe their initiative has a strong symbolic impact, which is likely to encourage others to follow suit.

They also point to Norway and Spain's historic role in advancing Israel-Palestinian peace efforts.

In 1991, the two sides sat down together for the first time at the Madrid peace conference that paved the way for the 1993 Oslo Accords

"This is a historic decision that has a single objective: that Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised address on Tuesday before a cabinet meeting that will formally approve the measure.

"Recognition of the State of Palestine is not only a matter of historic justice ... It is also an essential requirement if we are all to achieve peace," said Sanchez.  

The move, he said, was "not against anyone, least of all Israel". 

"It is the only way to move towards the solution that we all recognise as the only possible way to achieve a peaceful future – that of a Palestinian state living side-by-side with the state of Israel in peace and security."

Sanchez also said the decision reflected Spain's "outright rejection of Hamas, which is against the two-state solution" and whose October 7 attacks led to the Gaza war.



The plans were unveiled last week in a co-ordinated announcement by the prime ministers of the three countries.

Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said last week it would upgrade its representative office in Ramallah in the West Bank to an embassy and appoint an ambassador and upgrade the status of the Palestinian mission in Ireland to an embassy.

Formal recognition was to take place in all three on Tuesday. 

Both the Spanish and Irish cabinets were to meet to approve the step on Tuesday morning, while Norway informed Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa at the weekend its recognition would also take effect on Tuesday.


Differences within the EU

Although Slovenia has also started the process of recognising a Palestinian state, the issue has provoked sharp disagreement within the 27-nation European Union

Spain and Ireland are part of the bloc.

Of the 27 EU members, Sweden, Cyprus, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria have already recognised a Palestinian state. Malta, like Slovenia, has indicated it could follow.

Britain and Australia have said they are considering recognition, but France has said now is not the time, while Germany joined Israel's staunchest ally, the US, in rejecting a unilateral approach, insisting that a two-state solution can only be achieved through dialogue.


The decision by Spain and Ireland to formally recognise a Palestinian state brings the number of EU members to recognise Palestinian statehood to 11.
The decision by Spain and Ireland to formally recognise a Palestinian state brings the number of EU members to recognise Palestinian statehood to 11. © Studio Graphique France Médias Monde

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

The spiralling bloodshed in Gaza has revived calls for Palestinians to be given their own state, with a growing number of European countries expressing a desire to do so.

Tuesday's move by Spain, Ireland and Norway will mean the majority of the UN's 193 member states will now recognise Palestinian statehood.

These include many Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries.


'Partner to incitement' to Jewish genocide

The decision by Madrid, Dublin and Oslo has provoked a furious response from Israel. 

On Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Sanchez of being a "partner to incitement" to Jewish "genocide" shortly after the Spanish prime minister delivered his televised address to the nation.

"You are a partner to incitement to genocide of the Jewish people", Katz wrote in Spanish on X. His post draws parallel between Spanish minister Yolanda Diaz, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Hamas Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar.

Diaz has been criticised by Jewish groups following her call for a free Palestine, "from the river to the sea".



On Monday, Katz began taking "preliminary punitive measures" against Spain, ordering its Jerusalem consulate to stop offering consular services to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. 

"We will not put up with harming Israel's sovereignty and security," Katz said, describing recognition of Palestinian statehood as "an award to Hamas".

On October 7, Hamas fighters stormed into southern Israel, killing more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza. The Israeli army says 37 of them are dead.

Israel's relentless retaliatory offensive has killed more than 36,000 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and Reuters)

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