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Norway, Spain and Ireland to recognize Palestinian state

Israel faces major setback at the world stage as many other European countries have started process to recognize Palestine as an independent state



Norway, Spain and Ireland to recognize Palestinian state
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Oslo: A major setback for Israel at the international stage for wagging war against Gaza as Norway, Spain and Ireland have decided to recognize Palestine as an independent state.

 Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said Ireland, Norway, and Spain were announcing they would recognize the state of Palestine and take steps to give effect to the decision.

Harris called it an important day for Ireland and Palestine and said he was confident other countries would take a similar step.

He added Ireland was resolute in fully recognising the state of Israel and Israel's right to exist in peace with its neighbours.

Norway served as a facilitator in the 1992-1993 talks between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that led to the historic Oslo Accords.

These were the high point of Israeli-Palestinian relations, culminating in the signing ceremony on a sunlit White House lawn on Sept. 13, 1993.

These were intended as a temporary measure to build confidence and create space for a permanent peace agreement.


Jan Egeland, who was part of the Norwegian diplomatic team that helped broker the accords, said on Wednesday that the announcement by the European trio, though "symbolic", was a message to Israel that the occupation of the Palestinian Territories had to end.

"It's flagging to the stronger party that the way it is now cannot continue," Egeland, now head of the Norwegian Refugee Council NGO, present in Gaza, told reporters in Oslo.

"One people cannot be an occupier and the other people cannot remain occupied. It doesn't work. It will lead, again and again, to bloodshed on both sides."

He added: "The strategy that I believed in 1993, that we would have a Palestinian state, as part of a negotiation between the two sides, failed.

"An increasing number of countries in the world has now seen that we need to recognize there are two states, and now let's negotiate the delineation between the two and how to establish the two together."

Since the Oslo talks, Norway has chaired a donor group coordinating international assistance to the Palestinian territories, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), in an effort to bolster the Palestinian Authority, created by the Oslo Peace Accords.

Norway has been involved in several peace processes in recent decades and has a tradition of talking to all parties in involved in a conflict, which has broad consensus across political parties. In the case of the Middle East, that means Oslo is in contact with Hamas and Iran.

France said it was not yet ready to recognize a Palestinian state

The conditions to officially recognise Palestine as a state have not yet been met, France's foreign minister said.

"This is not just a symbolic issue or a question of political positioning, but a diplomatic tool in the service of the solution of two States living side by side in peace and security," Stephane Sejourne said in a statement.

Sejourne added that officially recognizing a Palestinian state was not a taboo for France, but it was not yet ready to.

"France does not consider that the conditions have yet been met for this decision to have a real impact on this process".

Palestine is one of two non-member observer states at the United Nations, along with the Holy See.

The UN describes their status as:

"Non-Member States having received a standing invitation to participate as Observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining Permanent Observer Missions at Headquarters."

The United Nations General Assembly earlier this month overwhelmingly backed a Palestinian bid to become a full U.N. member by recognizing it as qualified to join and recommending the U.N. Security Council "reconsider the matter favorably," our colleague Michelle Nichols wrote.

The assembly adopted a resolution with 143 votes in favor and nine against - including the U.S. and Israel - while 25 countries abstained. It does not give the Palestinians full U.N. membership, but simply recognizes them as qualified to join.

An application to become a full U.N. member first needs to be approved by the 15-member Security Council and then the General Assembly.

If the measure is again voted on by the council, it is likely to face the same fate: a U.S. veto.

The Slovenian government said earlier this month it had initiated the procedure for the recognition of a Palestinian state as a form of leverage to end the conflict in Gaza.

It said the date would depend on the success of the progress in peace talks, but would be June 13 at the latest.

The ruling coalition agreed unanimously on this decision, Prime Minister Robert Golob said, expressing hope that the recognition would inspire other countries to follow in Slovenia´s steps.

The current war is the bloodiest episode in a longer conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that has lasted for seven decades and destabilised the Middle East.

The conflict pits Israeli demands for a secure homeland in what it has long regarded as a hostile Middle East against Palestinians' unmet aspirations for a state of their own.

Israel and Hamas have been waging the latest round of the conflict since gunmen from the Palestinian militant group went on the rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages.

Israel responded with a military campaign in which more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas welcomed recognition

The Palestinian Authority, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and its main rival Hamas both welcomed the recognition of a Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority's power base is in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where it exercises limited self-rule.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group which launched the Oct. 7 cross border attack against Israel, controls Gaza.

Israel's operations in the enclave have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry. Gaza's population is around 2.3 million.

Israel's assault on Rafah on Gaza's southern edge has set hundreds of thousands of people fleeing what had been a refuge for half of the enclave's 2.3 million people. It has also cut off the main access routes for aid into Gaza, drawing international fears of mass casualties and famine.

Israel says it has no choice but to attack the city to root out the last battalions of Hamas fighters it believes are sheltering there.

Its troops have been slowly moving into the eastern outskirts of Rafah since the start of the month.

Residents and militants said tanks had taken up new positions on Wednesday further west than before along the southern border fence with Egypt, and were now stationed on the edge of the Yibna neighbourhood at the centre of Rafah. They had not yet entered the district as fighting had been intense.

UNRWA, the main United Nations agency in Gaza, estimated as of Monday that more than 800,000 people had fled Rafah since Israel began targeting the city in early May, despite international pleas for restraint.

Spain and its allies have spent months lobbying European nations, including France, Portugal, Belgium and Slovenia, to garner support for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

"Today, Ireland, Norway, and Spain are announcing that we recognise the state of Palestine," Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris said at a press conference in Dublin.

"Each of us will now undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision."

He added that Ireland was unequivocal in fully recognising Israel and its right to exist "securely and in peace with its neighbours", and he called for all hostages in Gaza to be immediately returned.

Around 144 out of 193 member-states of the United Nations have already taken the step, including most of the global south, Russia, China and India, but only a handful of 27 EU members have so far done so.

Palestinians seek statehood in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital.

Israel's staunchest ally, the United States, last month vetoed an attempt at United Nations recognition for a Palestinian state, arguing that a two-state solution can only come from direct negotiations between the parties.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz ordered the immediate return of the Israeli ambassadors to 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.

Israel's foreign ministry said it would also reprimand the Irish, Spanish and Norwegian ambassadors and show them a video of female hostages being held in captivity by Hamas.

Norway, Ireland and Spain announced on Wednesday that they would recognise an independent Palestinian state on May 28, saying they hoped other Western countries would follow suit.

It prompted Israel to recall its ambassadors.

"In the middle of a war, with tens of thousands of dead and injured, we must keep alive the only thing that can provide a safe home for both Israelis and Palestinians: two states that can live in peace with each other," Stoere told a press conference, our colleagues Nerijus Adomaitis and Gwladys Fouche write.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the move was aimed at accelerating efforts to secure a ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza.

"We hope that our recognition and our reasons contribute to other western countries to follow 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 country's lower house.

Courtesy: Reuters