HomeFOREIGNNorway, Ireland, and Spain Formally Recognize Palestinian State Amid Ongoing Conflict

Norway, Ireland, and Spain Formally Recognize Palestinian State Amid Ongoing Conflict

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Afor Kenneth

In a significant move, Norway, Ireland, and Spain have announced their formal recognition of a Palestinian state.

This decision underscores the European Union’s differing stances on the issue, especially in light of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

While these three countries hope that their recognition will inspire others to follow suit, France has expressed reservations, emphasizing that the timing may not be right, although the possibility of recognizing Palestine remains on the table.

The announcement was made jointly by Prime Ministers Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway, Pedro Sánchez of Spain, and Simon Harris of Ireland. Their decision comes shortly after the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor revealed intentions to issue arrest warrants for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leaders.

Pedro Sánchez, who has been advocating for recognition during diplomatic visits, stressed that this step aligns with efforts to revive a two-state solution in the Middle East conflict.

Sánchez also criticized Netanyahu’s aggressive campaign in Gaza, which followed Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7. The situation remains complex, but these European nations’ recognition of Palestine represents a significant diplomatic development in the ongoing conflict.

“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,” Netanyahu said, adding a sovereign State of Palestine would be a “terror state”.

The Palestine Liberation Organization celebrated the recognition move as “historical,” while Hamas described it as an “important step” driven by the “brave resistance” of Palestinians.

According to the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the occupied West Bank, 142 out of 193 UN member states already recognize a Palestinian state.

In 2014, Sweden became the first Western European member of the European Union to recognize Palestinian statehood, acknowledging its significant Palestinian community.

Before joining the EU, several countries—including Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania—had already recognized a Palestinian state.

Norway, a key player in Middle East diplomacy and host of the 1990s Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that resulted in the Oslo Accords, stated that recognition is necessary to support moderate voices amid the ongoing 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 said, adding that the move could give renewed momentum for peace talks.

Simon Harris drew parallels between the international recognition of the Irish state in 1919 and the current situation regarding the recognition of a Palestinian state.

“From our own history, we know what it means,” he added making reference to Ireland’s declaration of independence from British rule.

In March, Slovenia and Malta, along with Spain and Ireland, signed a statement indicating their readiness to recognize a Palestinian state. Recently, Slovenia’s government approved a decree to recognize a Palestinian state, which will undergo parliamentary approval by mid-June. France has stated that recognizing a Palestinian state is not considered taboo.

But 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, a proponent of the two-state solution, emphasizes that formal recognition of a Palestinian state should emerge from direct negotiations between the conflicting parties. This stance aligns with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, who urges the 27-member bloc to find common ground based on the two-state solution.

For decades, the recognition of a Palestinian state has been regarded as the ultimate goal of the peace process between Palestinians and Israel. However, the United States and most Western European nations have maintained that recognition should occur only after resolving critical issues such as final borders and the status of Jerusalem.

In the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7 attacks and Israel’s subsequent campaign in Gaza, diplomats are reevaluating previously contentious ideas. These attacks resulted in the tragic loss of over 1,170 lives, primarily civilians, according to official Israeli figures. Additionally, militants took 252 hostages, with 124 remaining in Gaza, including 37 whom the Israeli army confirms as deceased.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has further escalated tensions, claiming the lives of more than 35,700 people in Gaza, predominantly civilians, as reported by the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. Amid this backdrop, the international community grapples with the delicate balance between recognition, security, and the pursuit of lasting peace.

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