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Spain, Norway, Ireland to formally recognize Palestinian state

Rodrigo Orihuela and Jennifer Duggan, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Spain, Norway and Ireland are set to recognize a Palestinian state on Tuesday, deepening diplomatic tensions with Israel as the war in Gaza rages.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Spain’s plans in a speech ahead of a Cabinet meeting to approve the recognition. “I call for an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and the release “of all hostages held by Hamas,” Sanchez said.

The two other European countries are expected to follow later in the day.

The Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, which erupted in October, has brought the issue of Palestinian statehood back to the fore of global politics. Israel says Hamas’s attack underscores how an independent state on its border would undermine its security. Yet many of Israel’s allies say a two-state solution — which has been discussed for decades — is what’s needed to bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The war has inflamed the region and led to widespread condemnation of Israel. Those tensions have worsened since Sunday with an Israeli airstrike on a camp on the outskirts of the city of Rafah killing an estimated 45 Palestinians. On Monday, an Egyptian soldier was killed in a clash with Israeli troops.

Israel recalled its ambassadors to Spain, Ireland and Norway on May 22, right after they made a co-ordinated announcement that they would recognize a Palestinian state, which would comprise the areas of Gaza and the West Bank. Although some 140 nations already do so, few in western Europe have.

The three European governments have called for an end to the war in Gaza and say that peace the only solution for peace in the region is two states.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the war is necessary to destroy Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.

Netanyahu has spent most of his life rejecting a Palestinian state, although in 2009 he said he’d accept a demilitarized one as long as the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinian leadership rejected that, and in recent years, Netanyahu and the Israeli public have stepped away from supporting two states.


The Israeli ambassador to Ireland, speaking in Jerusalem on Monday, warned that the move would concern Israeli investors in the Irish tech sector.

“This is not the time for such an announcement,” Dana Erlich told Reuters. “I think it sends the wrong message about the location and the centrality of Ireland as a tech hub.”

Ireland’s deputy prime minister Micheal Martin is seeking government approval at a cabinet meeting for the formal recognition by Ireland of the state of Palestine. That will establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries. A Palestinian flag will be flown over the Irish parliament building. A ambassador from Ireland will be appointed to a state of Palestine.

The plans have drawn strong responses from Israel beyond the recalling of the ambassadors. Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem would no longer be allowed to offer services to residents of the Palestine Authority.

The U.S., Israel’s most important ally, backs a two-state solution, but says it can only come about through negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. In recent months, President Joe Biden’s signaled a state of Palestine could be created with strict limits on its military forces so as to reassure Israel.

The conflict began when Hamas fighters stormed into Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and abducting 250. Israel’s counterattack has killed some 35,000 Gazans, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.


(With assistance from Phil Kuntz and Michael Ovaska.)

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