Israel’s Netanyahu blasts Ireland, Norway, Spain for recognising Palestinian state

Israel has reacted to the recognition of a Palestinian state by Ireland, Norway and Spain on Wednesday even as the war against Hamas continues more than seven months in devastating Gaza.

Recall that the three European countries said they would formally recognise the State of Palestine on May 28, drawing praise from many Arab and Muslim states.

In a swift reaction, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the move amounted to a “reward for terror”, after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched its October 7 attack which sparked the Gaza war.

Israel said it was recalling its envoys to Dublin, Oslo and Madrid for “urgent consultations” and also summoned the three European ambassadors for a rebuke.

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell posted on X that he would work with the bloc’s 27 members “to promote a common EU position based on a 2-state solution”.

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, on his first visit since October 7 to the contested religious site of the Temple Mount in the Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, said the recognition rewarded “murderers and aggressors”.

His visits to the site — known as the Al-Aqsa mosque compound to Muslims — have been cited by Hamas as one reason for the group’s October attack on Israel, which it called “Al-Aqsa Flood”.

The White House said President Joe Biden opposed unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, saying it should be realised “through direct negotiations”.

Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Israel not to withhold funding intended for the Palestinian Authority in retaliation.

Most Western governments, including the United States, say they are willing to recognise Palestinian statehood one day — but not before thorny issues such as final borders and the status of Jerusalem are settled.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said “recognition of Palestine is a means of supporting the moderate forces which have been losing ground in this protracted and brutal conflict”.

“In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, 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.”

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Netanyahu was “causing so much pain, destruction and resentment in Gaza and the rest of Palestine that the two-state solution is in danger”.

And Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris called the October 7 attack “barbaric” but stressed that “a two-state solution is the only way out of the generational cycles of violence, retaliation and resentment”.

According to the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the occupied West Bank, 142 of the 193 UN member countries already recognise a Palestinian state.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, seen internationally as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, hailed Wednesday’s moves as “historical”.

Hamas also welcomed “an important step towards affirming our right to our land”, while Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas political bureau member, said it would mark “a turning point in the international position on the Palestinian issue”.

A Palestinian in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, Ismail Hassuna, 46, said the European trio’s decision was a step that “will restore hope” and should help in efforts to “stop Israel from its heinous crimes”.

Political analyst Ines Abdul Razek, who heads the Palestine Institute for Public Democracy, called the decision symbolic but “not a great victory”.

She said what was needed was “actual measures, including sanctions and arms embargoes” against Israel.

Hamas’s October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli official figures.

The militants also took 252 hostages, 124 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

On Wednesday a hostages campaign group released footage of five Israeli female soldiers being captured by militants on October 7 and taken away.

Speaking about the video, Netanyahu vowed to continue fighting Hamas to “ensure what we have seen tonight never happens again”.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,709 people in Gaza.

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