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OFFICIAL: Spain formally recognises Palestinian statehood

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
OFFICIAL: Spain formally recognises Palestinian statehood
A protestor holds a sign reading "Rafah, Stop genocide" during a pro-Palestinian demonstration, in front of the Foreign Affairs ministry in Madrid, on May 27, 2024. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Spain, Ireland and Norway formally recognised a Palestinian state on Tuesday in a coordinated decision slammed by Israel as a "reward" for Hamas, more than seven months into the devastating Gaza war.

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The three European countries believe their initiative has strong symbolic impact that is likely to encourage others to follow suit.

After Ireland's government formally approved the measure, Prime Minister Simon Harris said the aim was to keep Middle East peace hopes alive.

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"We had wanted to recognise Palestine at the end of a peace process. However, we have made this move alongside Spain and Norway to keep the miracle of peace alive," he said in a statement, urging Israel to "stop the humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza.

As Oslo's recognition went into effect, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide hailed the move as "a special day for Norway-Palestine relations".

Shortly afterwards, Spain followed suit, with government spokeswoman Pilar Alegría confirming the cabinet had formally recognised Palestinian statehood, qualifying it as "a historic day".

Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares also said it was a day that would be "etched in Spain's history".

Earlier, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said such recognition was "an essential requirement" for peace, insisting the move was "not against anyone, least of all Israel" and was the only way to secure a future "Palestinian state living side-by-side with the state of Israel in peace and security".

Sánchez added that Spain won't recognise any borders other than those of 1967, when after the Six-Day War Israel started to occupy and carve up increasing amounts of Palestine. The capital of Palestine will be seen as East Jerusalem. 

IN DEPTH: Why does Spain support Palestine?

The decision also reflected Spain's "outright rejection of Hamas, which is against the two-state solution" and whose October 7th attacks led to the Gaza war, he added.

Ahead of his own cabinet meeting, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said it was "an important moment" that sent a signal "that there are practical actions you can take as a country to help keep the hope... of a two-state solution alive".

Spain's decision to recognise Palestinian statehood has provoked a furious response from Israel, especially from their foreign minister, who's published a flamenco-themed Hamas video and compared Spain's Labour Minister to Iran's supreme leader.

READ ALSO: Israel FM says Spain PM partner in 'incitement to Jewish genocide'

Differences within the EU

Recognising Palestinian statehood has provoked sharp disagreement within the 27-nation European Union.

For decades, formal recognition of a Palestinian state has been seen as the endgame of a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

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Washington and most Western European nations have said they are willing to one day recognise Palestinian statehood, but not before agreement on thorny issues like the status of Jerusalem and final borders.

The Gaza bloodshed has revived calls for Palestinians to be given their own state.

Tuesday's move will mean 145 of the United Nations' 193 member states now recognise Palestinian statehood.

In 2014, Sweden became the first EU member to recognise a Palestinian state.

It followed six other European countries that took the step before joining the bloc: Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

On October 7th, Hamas fighters stormed into southern Israel in an assault that killed more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza. The Israeli army says 37 of them are dead.

Israel's relentless retaliatory offensive has killed more than 36,000 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

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