Spain, Ireland and Norway recognise Palestinian state

Other countries expected to follow suit in the coming weeks, Irish prime minister says

By Sondos Shalaby
22 May 2024

Spain, Ireland and Norway recognise the state of Palestine, the three countries said on Wednesday.

“Today, Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognise the state of Palestine,” Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said at a news conference.

Harris added that other countries are expected to join the trio in the coming weeks.

“Each of us will now undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that his country’s cabinet would recognise an independent Palestinian state on Tuesday.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide also said his country’s official recognition of Palestine would take effect that same day.

In response, Israel’s foreign ministry said it ordered an immediate recall of its ambassadors to Ireland and Norway.

Israel in November recalled its ambassador to Spain after Sanchez accused it of violating international humanitarian law in its war on Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas welcomed the decision. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz denounced it, saying it undermines his government’s efforts to bring back captives.

“Israel will not be silent,” Katz said in a statement. “We are determined to achieve our goals: restoring security to our citizens, dismantling Hamas and bringing the hostages home.”

Hossam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, said the decision was a step closer to justice and peace.

“History is being made. Thank you Ireland, Norway and Spain for recognising our inalienable right to self-determination and our distinct national identity,” he wrote on X.

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“This will move us closer to justice and a sustainable peace. We urge the few remaining countries in the world, especially the UK, with its historic responsibility, to follow suit and provide a long overdue path out from occupation, colonisation, oppression and apartheid, to equality under law and accountability.”

Two-state solution

During the news conference, Harris said that he viewed the two-state solution as the only viable pathway for peace and security for the peoples of Israel and Palestine.

He added that Wednesday’s decision holds particular significance for his country, given its history of independence.

“Taking our place on the world stage and being recognised by others as having the right to be there was a matter of the highest importance for the founders of our state,” he said.

At a separate video statement posted on X, Harris called for a ceasefire in Gaza, the unconditional release of captives and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid.

“Children are innocent, the children of Israel, the children of Palestine. They deserve peace,” he said.

“It is long past time for a ceasefire,” he added. “There should be no further military incursion into Rafah. There should be no more Hamas or Hezbollah rockets fired at Israel.”

The decision to recognise Palestine comes one day after the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, applied for arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defence minister as well as Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 7 October.

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Punitive measures

Reacting to the decision, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich ordered punitive measures against the PA and cancellation of the arrangement with Norway under the Oslo Accords to collect taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and transfer funds to the PA.

“Norway was the first to unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state today and it cannot be a partner in anything related to Judea and Samaria,” he wrote on X. “I intend to stop transferring the funds to it and demand the return of all the transferred funds.”

Funds earmarked for Gaza under the same framework have been frozen since November.

Smotrich also issued a directive to build a settlement for each country that recognises Palestine. Settlements are illegal under international law, but successive Israeli governments have allowed the building of settlements since 1967.

The far-right minister added that he decided to “revoke all VIP permits for PA officials indefinitely at all crossings and impose additional economic sanctions on senior PA officials and their families.”

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