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Ireland, Spain, Norway announce recognition of Palestinian state

Arab praise as European trio recognise Palestinian state

Published : Thursday, 23 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 247

MADRID, May 22:  Ireland, Spain and Norway announced on Wednesday that they would recognise a Palestinian state on May 28, saying they hoped other Western countries would follow suit, prompting Israel to recall its ambassadors.

Spains Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the move was aimed at accelerating efforts to secure a ceasefire in Israels war with Hamas in Gaza.

"We hope that our recognition and our reasons contribute to other western countries following this path, because the more we are, the more strength we will have to impose a ceasefire, to achieve the release of the hostages held by Hamas, to relaunch the political process that can lead to a peace agreement," he said in a speech to the countrys lower house.

Irelands Prime Minister Simon Harris announced the decision at a news conference in Dublin. He added that Ireland was unequivocal in recognising Israels right to exist "securely and in peace with its neighbours", and calling for all hostages in Gaza to be immediately returned.

In Oslo, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the only possible political solution between Israelis and Palestinians is "two states living side by side in peace and security".

Norway said the demarcation of the two states should be based on pre-1967 borders, with Jerusalem as capital of both, but added that its border recognition should not prejudice negotiations over ultimate border lines.

Ireland also said the borders should be along 1967 lines.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz ordered the immediate return of the Israeli ambassadors from the three countries for consultations, and warned of further "severe consequences".

"I am sending a clear message today: Israel will not be complacent against those who undermine its sovereignty and endanger its security," he said.

The decision was welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self rule in the Israeli occupied West Bank, and by Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since driving the PA out of the enclave in 2007.

Around 144 out of 193 member-states of the United Nations recognise Palestine as a state, including most of the global south, Russia, China and India. But only a handful of the 27 EU members have done so, mostly former Communist countries as well as Sweden and Cyprus.

Britain, Australia and EU member Malta have indicated in recent months that they could soon follow suit.

Recognition of a Palestinian state is still opposed for now by Israels closest ally the United States, which has the power to veto it at the United Nations and did so last month.

Washington says it favours Palestinian statehood eventually, but only as a result of negotiations with Israel, a position it shares with European powers including France and Germany.

On Wednesday Germany said it was a matter that required further dialogue. France said the issue was not a taboo for Paris, but the conditions had not yet been met.

Meanwhile, Arab states hailed the decision by Ireland, Norway and Spain to recognise a Palestinian state on Wednesday and urged other countries to follow suit.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which borders the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, were among the Middle East countries that praised the move, having called for a two-state solution for decades.

Dublin, Madrid and Oslo announced they would recognise a Palestinian state next Tuesday, nearly eight months into the devastating Gaza conflict.

Israel strongly opposed the decision, arguing it was "rewarding terrorism" after Palestinian militant group Hamass October 7 attack which sparked the Gaza war.

But Saudi Arabia called it a "positive decision" that "affirms the international consensus on the inherent right of the Palestinian people to self-determination".

The Gulf kingdom, which has long positioned itself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, said it "calls on the rest of the countries to quickly make the same decision".  —REUTERS, AFP

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