Israel accuses Spain, Belgium leaders of backing ‘terrorism’ after Gaza remarks

Prime Minister Netanyahu said he ‘strongly condemns’ the comments by Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez and Belgian PM Alexander De Croo.

By Giovanna Faggionato
November 25, 2023

Israel lashed out at the leaders of Spain and Belgium for their comments about the situation in the Gaza Strip, labelling the remarks “false statements” made “in support of terrorism.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “strongly condemns the comments” by Spanish Prime Ministers Pedro Sánchez and Belgian leader Alexander De Croo during a visit Friday to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, the prime minister’s office said in a statement on X.

In Rafah, Sánchez and De Croo gave a joint press conference during which they both criticized Israel’s attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip and stressed the need for more humanitarian aid.

“The indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, including thousands of children, is completely unacceptable. Violence will only lead to more violence,” Sánchez said, according to a report by Spanish newspaper El País.

Sánchez also said Spain would be open to unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state even “if the European Union does not,” in a departure from his previous stance amid demands from his government ally the Sumar coalition.

Belgium’s De Croo also decried that “too many civilians have been killed” in the Gaza conflict. “We cannot accept a society is destroyed the way the society of Gaza is being destroyed,” he said.

“The military operation that Israel is conducting to stop the terrorist attacks must respect international humanitarian law,” De Croo added, according to a transcript of his remarks posted by his office.

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Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen criticized the remarks by the two prime ministers as “false statements” made “in support of terrorism.” Cohen said he would summon the Spanish and Belgian ambassadors for admonishment.

“Their ambassadors will be invited to attend to be severely reprimanded,” Cohen wrote in a post on X on Friday.

Both European leaders have previously condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and championed Israel’s right to defend itself. But they have also pushed for a humanitarian cease-fire to avoid further collateral damage and allow aid to flow into Gaza.

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