Norway, Ireland, Spain To Recognise Palestinian State

Norway, Ireland, and Spain declared on Wednesday that they will recognise a Palestinian state beginning next week, underlining the European Union’s deep division on the topic while the Israel-Hamas conflict rages.

The three countries hope that other countries will follow suit, but France indicated that now was not the proper time — despite the fact that Paris emphasized that recognition was not “taboo”.

Prime Ministers Jonas Gahr Store of Norway, Pedro Sanchez of Spain, and Simon Harris of Ireland made the declaration just days after the International Criminal Court prosecutor stated he would seek arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and Hamas leaders.

Sanchez, who has been to various countries to rally support for recognition, said the action would boost attempts to revive a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis.

Sanchez claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was jeopardizing those efforts with the deadly Gaza offensive, which has raged since Hamas’ historic October 7 attack on Israel.

“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 stated in parliament.

Israel reacted angrily again, recalling its envoys to the three states.

“The intention of several European countries to recognise a Palestinian state is a reward for terror,” Netanyahu said, adding a sovereign State of Palestine would be a “terror state”.

The Palestine Liberation Organization hailed the move as “historical”. Hamas, Gaza’s rulers, welcomed a “important step” that emerged from Palestinians’ “brave resistance”.

According to the Palestinian Authority, which governs sections of the occupied West Bank, 142 of the 193 UN members have already recognised a Palestinian state.


‘Only alternative’

Sweden, which has a strong Palestinian community, was the first European Union member in Western Europe to recognize Palestinian statehood in 2014.

Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania all recognized Palestine as a sovereign state before joining the EU.

Norway, which has played a crucial role in Middle East diplomacy, sponsoring Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the 1990s that resulted in the Oslo Accords, stated that recognition was required to encourage moderate voices during the Gaza conflict.

“In the midst of a war, 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 added. The action could give renewed push for peace talks.

Harris drew parallels to the international recognition of the Irish state in 1919.

“From our own history, we know what it means,” he continued, referring to Ireland’s declaration of independence from British authority, which led to formal statehood.

Slovenia and Malta signed a statement in March, together with Spain and Ireland, indicating their desire to accept a Palestinian state.

Slovenia’s government issued a decree this month recognising a Palestinian state, which will be submitted to parliament for ratification by mid-June.


Not ‘taboo’

France stated that recognizing a Palestinian state was not “taboo”.

However, French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne stated that Paris “does not consider that the conditions have been present to date for this decision to have a real impact in this process”.

Germany, which likewise advocates for a two-state solution, believes that such recognition should arise from direct negotiations between the conflicting parties.

Following the statement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged the bloc’s 27 members to reach an agreement based on a two-state solution.

For decades, formal recognition of a Palestinian state was viewed as the culmination of a peace process between Palestinians and Israelis.

The United States and most Western European countries have stated that they are willing to recognize Palestinian statehood in the future, but only after reaching an agreement on contentious matters such as ultimate borders and Jerusalem’s status.

However, following Hamas’ October 7 strikes and Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, diplomats are revisiting previously problematic concepts.

According to an AFP calculation based on Israeli official estimates, the attacks killed around 1,170 individuals, the majority of whom were civilians.

Militants also grabbed 252 hostages, 124 of whom are still in Gaza, including 37 who the Israeli army claims are dead.

According to the health ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, Israel’s retaliatory operation has killed around 35,700 Palestinians, the majority of whom are civilians.

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