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Spain, Norway and Ireland recognize a Palestinian state, further isolating Israel

Spain, Norway and Ireland said on Wednesday they would recognize an independent Palestinian state, dealing a diplomatic blow to Israel that underscores the country’s growing isolation on the world stage after more than 7 months since the devastating military attack in the Gaza Strip.

In closely coordinated announcements, the leaders of the three countries said that Palestinian independence could not wait for a peace deal to be negotiated with Israel’s right-wing government, which opposes a two-state solution. expansion of settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and settlements. is continuing to bombard Gaza without overthrowing Hamas or bringing all the hostages home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel also disappointed world leaders – and two members of his war cabinet – by refusing to establish a post-war plan to govern Gaza, where medical authorities Statistics say more than 35,000 people have died.

Simon Harris, Ireland’s prime minister, linked his government’s decision to Ireland’s bid for independence from Britain. “We know from our own history what it means: Recognition is an act with strong political and symbolic value,” he said at a news conference.

The announcements by all three countries came just days after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court issued a statement. request an arrest warrant against Netanyahu and Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, on suspicion of war crimes. He also sought arrest warrants for three top leaders of Hamas.

Palestinian leaders in the West Bank welcomed recognition by the three countries as an important goal symbolic gesture. Serious negotiations on a two-state solution have not been held for more than a decade. And some observers say that by not recognizing a Palestinian state, the West has enabled a far-right Israeli agenda that opposes its existence.

“We believe it will help preserve the two-state solution and give Palestinians hope that they will have their own state outside of the country,” said Ziad Abu Amr, a senior Palestinian official in the West Bank. side by side with Israel in peace and security”. interview.

More than 140 countries have recognized the Palestinian state. But most countries in Western Europe and the United States do not, arguing that statehood can only be achieved through a negotiated agreement with Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu, who has said that establishing a Palestinian state would pose “present danger” to Israel, denounced the moves on Wednesday, calling them “a reward for terrorism.” He said they would “not prevent us from winning against Hamas.”

Israel Katz, Israel’s Foreign Minister, said he had summoned the Spanish, Norwegian and Irish ambassadors for “severe criticism” after their governments decided to “award gold medals to terrorists”. “Hamas father”.

In a statement on social networksMr. Katz said he would show the ambassadors “a video of the brutal and cruel kidnapping of our daughter by Hamas terrorists, to highlight the wrong decision their government made.” show”.

In the video, which has not been independently verified by The New York Times, Palestinian militants, some wearing Hamas headbands, can be seen tying the hands of five female Israeli hostages on guard duty at Nahal Oz, an army base. proximity to the Gaza border. At least two of the hostages had bloody faces. The militants continuously threatened the soldiers.

The families said they hoped the footage would put pressure on the Israeli government to revive seemingly stalled ceasefire negotiations that could pave the way for the release of hostages still being held in Israel. Gaza.

“I ask you, show this clip every day, open your broadcast with it – until someone wakes up, the whole country wakes up and realizes that they have been abandoned there for 229 years. days,” Eli Albag, whose daughter Liri can be seen in the video, told Israel’s Channel 12.

Negotiations aimed at securing the release of more than 125 living and dead hostages have been deadlocked since Israel began attacking the southern city of Rafah in early May. Israeli forces operate in the north Gaza recently recovered the bodies of four Israelis kidnapped on October 7, adding to concerns for the remaining captives.

In an interview Wednesday, Jonas Gahr Store, Norway’s prime minister, said that by offering to support Palestinians who support democracy and a sovereign Palestine alongside Israel, Norway hopes to break what he sees as a “downward spiral, with militant groups.” as Hamas sets its Palestinian agenda” and the Israeli government “establishes hundreds of thousands of settlers” in occupied land.

Norway’s support for a Palestinian state is special because it held the secret negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords, the 1993 peace framework that many hoped would resolve the conflict. Israel-Palestine.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration reiterated its position that the establishment of a Palestinian state must come through negotiations with the Israelis.

“The president is a strong supporter of the two-state solution and has done so throughout his career,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council. “He believes that a Palestinian state should be realized through direct negotiations between the parties and not through unilateral recognition.”

Acting at least partly in response to Norway, Spain and Ireland, Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, said that Israel would stop transferring vital financial resources to the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the Bank. West. A spokesman for his office blamed administration leaders for pushing for recognition of Palestinians in Europe.

“They are acting against Israel legally, diplomatically and for unilateral recognition,” spokesman Eytan Fuld said. “When they act against the state of Israel, there must be a response.”

The administration’s finances have been thrown into disarray because of Israel’s tightening restrictions on its funding and the West Bank’s economic slowdown stemming from the war in Gaza. This month the competent authority only has to pay 50 percent salaries of tens of thousands of civil servants.

Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, called Mr. Smotrich’s decision to refuse money to the Palestinian Authority “a mistake on strategic grounds.”

“It undermines the quest for security and prosperity for the Palestinian people, which benefits Israel,” he said. “And I think it’s wrong to withhold funds that provide basic goods and services to innocent people.”

Mohammad Mustafa, the newly installed Palestinian Authority prime minister, said that the dire financial situation is contributing to a “very serious moment” in the West Bank, where more than 500 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 , many in clashes with Israeli forces. , according to the agency’s Ministry of Health.

“We are going through an extremely difficult time trying to provide services to our people on the ground and they have been subjected to military action,” Mr. Mustafa said in a video distributed by his office. ”. “And on top of that, we can’t pay them to do the basics. This is war.”

On Wednesday, Israeli forces expanded their military offensive into the West Bank city of Jenin, where Palestinian officials said at least 11 people, including two high school students, a doctor and a teacher, were injured. member, died in recent days. Israeli officials said the soldiers were carrying out anti-terrorism operations.

Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition in the Israeli parliament, said he agreed with Mr. Netanyahu that the decisions by Spain, Norway and Ireland were “disgraceful.” But he also called this an “unprecedented diplomatic failure” for Israel, an implicit rebuke of Mr. Netanyahu.

Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, an expert on Israel-Europe relations at Mitvim, an Israeli foreign policy research group, said the announcements reflect the level of global support Israel has lost since the invasion. October 7 attack led by Hamas left 1,200 people in Israel dead and led to destruction. According to Israeli authorities, the kidnapping of more than 200 other people.

“It proves to us once again, as Israelis, how increasingly isolated we are,” she said.

Spain, Ireland and Norway are both strongly critical of Israel’s conduct of war and have historically been strong supporters of the Palestinians. Therefore, their announcement may not put much pressure on Israel, Ms. Sion-Tzidkiyahu said. If Germany or France, which are more closely allied with Israel, accepted Palestinian statehood, it would carry more weight, she said.

“For now, we can live with it, because it has no real meaning,” Ms. Sion-Tzidkiyahu said. “It has no effect on the ground.”

Report contributed by Steven Erlanger, Henrik Pryser libel, Adam Rasgon, Victoria Kim, Raja Abdulrahim, Megan Special And Michael D. Shear.


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