Spain's far-right leader sparks row with surprise Israel trip

AFP - [email protected]
Spain's far-right leader sparks row with surprise Israel trip
Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu met with the head of Spain's far-right party Vox, Santiago Abascal (R). Photos: MANDEL NGAN, RONEN ZVULUN/AFP

Spain's far-right Vox leader Santiago Abascal has come under fire following surprise talks in Jerusalem with Israel's premier Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce Madrid's recognition of Palestinian statehood.


The unexpected trip was only publicised on Tuesday night when Santiago Abascal published photos on X of himself and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The meeting took place on the same day that Spain, Ireland and Norway recognised Palestinian statehood, sparking Israeli fury and hiking diplomatic tensions, notably with Madrid.

Since the Gaza war began on October 7th following Hamas' deadly attack on southern Israel, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has been sharply critical of the spiralling Palestinian death toll.


Israel has also been angered by remarks by Sánchez's top ministers, including his far-left deputy, who said: "Palestine will be free from the river to the sea".

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For Israel, the slogan - which refers to the British mandate borders of Palestine between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean before Israel's 1948 creation - was "a clear call for the elimination of Israel".

In a post on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz attacked Sánchez over his deputy's remark and Palestinian statehood, saying he was party to "incitement to commit genocide and war crimes against the Jewish people".

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

In Spain, the far-right Vox and the right-wing opposition Popular Party (PP) have both slammed Sánchez for recognising Palestinian statehood.

According to Vox, Abascal hailed Israel's "firmness" in the Gaza war and told Netanyahu that the Spanish premier "was ready to do anything to cover up his own political and economic corruption".


Abascal said he told Netanyahu "the real reason" for the Palestinian statehood move was Sánchez trying to divert attention from a graft probe into his wife.

"I told the prime minister that the corruption investigation into Begoña Gómez was the real reason Sánchez decided to recognise a Palestinian state," he wrote on X.

His post sparked a backlash with Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares accusing Abascal of inflaming the situation.

"Abascal is embracing the policy of falsehoods, slander and insults coming from the most extreme elements of Netanyahu's government," he told RTVE public television late Tuesday.

"While some people are fuelling wars, others are trying to find solutions for peace."

He also accused the PP of aligning itself with Vox, with Sánchez raising the same issue in parliament Wednesday.

"What do you think of the picture Abascal took yesterday with Netanyahu, encouraging him to continue the bombings in Gaza and in Rafah?" he asked PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo.

The Gaza war began with the October 7th Hamas attacks on southern Israel in which 1,189 people were killed, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,171 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry.



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