Spain, Norway and Ireland Formally Recognize Palestinian Statehood

Three European nations formally recognized an independent Palestinian state on Tuesday, drawing the ire of Israel as it continued to press its military offensive in Gaza.

The previously announced moves by Spain, Norway and Ireland are largely symbolic, but serve as a rebuke to Israel in the face of mounting international frustration over the country’s military offensive in Gaza and its occupation of Palestinian territories over the years.

They also come amid global outrage over an Israeli airstrike on Sunday that killed dozens of people at a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, despite international calls for the military to curb its offensive in the southern Gaza city. Growing concern over the civilian death toll could prompt more nations to follow suit, analysts say.

Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, on Tuesday accused Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, of complicity in incitement against Jews for his role in recognizing a Palestinian state.

But Mr. Sánchez rejected that claim in an address on Tuesday ahead of a cabinet vote on the matter, calling the recognition a matter of “historical justice” and a “necessity” in order to achieve peace.

“The recognition of Palestine is not against anyone, least of all Israel, a friendly nation that Spain values and holds in high regard and with whom we aim to foster the strongest possible relationship,” he said on the steps of Moncloa Palace, the prime minister’s residence, in Madrid. “Furthermore, our decision reflects our absolute rejection of Hamas, a terrorist organization that is against a two-state solution.”

Ireland — which on Tuesday flew a Palestinian flag outside its presidential palace, alongside those of the European Union and Ukraine — said that it had agreed to establish full diplomatic relations and would appoint an ambassador to a Palestinian state. “We have made this move alongside Spain and Norway to keep the miracle of peace alive,” said Ireland’s prime minister, Simon Harris. “I again call on Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to listen to the world and stop the humanitarian catastrophe we are seeing in Gaza.”

While scores of countries have already recognized Palestinian statehood, the closely coordinated moves by the three European nations carried added weight amid the growing toll of the war in Gaza, and because most Western European countries, and the United States, have resisted taking such a step out of solidarity with Israel.

Jonas Gahr Store, the prime minister of Norway, said in an interview last week that his country was taking action along with Spain and Ireland in an effort to salvage the possibility of a two-state solution in the face of an Israeli government that has openly rejected it.

Mr. Store said Norway is hoping to break what he sees as “a downward spiral, with militant groups like Hamas setting the agenda on the Palestinian side” and the Israeli government “establishing hundreds of thousands of settlers” on occupied land.

And even if the reality of two states can seem far away, Mr. Store said, “more countries in Europe are making the same analysis as Norway, that the Palestinians should have the same rights and obligations that statehood entails,” committed to peace and bound by international law.

The moves will likely have little immediate effect on conditions for Palestinians in Gaza, where health authorities say more than 36,000 people have been killed in over seven months of Israeli bombardment and ground combat.

The White House has flatly rejected unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, with Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, saying that President Biden “believes a Palestinian state should be realized through direct negotiations between the parties.”

Aaron Boxerman, Steven Erlanger and Emma Bubola contributed reporting.

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