Spain, Ireland, and Norway to Recognize Palestine Statehood

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Spain, Ireland, and Norway to Recognize Palestine Statehood

The governments of Spain, Ireland, and Norway announced jointly on Wednesday that they will formally recognize Palestine as an independent state next week, a symbolic but nonetheless significant move met with condemnation from Israel and celebration from Palestinians. The recognition, scheduled to take effect May 28, further highlights Israel’s growing international isolation as its war with Hamas in Gaza enters its seventh month.

The first of the three statehood acknowledgments came from Norway, with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre stating that “there cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition.”

The first of the three statehood acknowledgments came from Norway, with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre stating that “there cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition.”
(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

“By recognizing a Palestinian state, Norway supports the Arab peace plan,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday morning. Norway has long been a supporter of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, and the prime minister has previously defended the Palestinian people’s “fundamental right to an independent state.” However, Norwegian officials admit that this symbolic gesture will likely do little to stop the ongoing war.

Following Norway’s announcement, Ireland quickly followed suit, with newly appointed Taoiseach Simon Harris calling it “an historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine.” Unlike their counterparts in Norway, the Irish government indicated that the goal of the acknowledgment is to encourage Israel and Palestine to peacefully negotiate a resolution to the conflict.

“Ireland today recognises Palestine as a nation among nations with all the rights and responsibilities that entails,” Harris said in a statement. “Ireland has for many decades recognised the State of Israel and its right to exist in peace and security. We had hoped to recognise Palestine as part of a two-state peace deal but instead we recognise Palestine to keep the hope of that two-state solution alive. Ireland’s dream is that the Israeli and Palestinian children of May 28th 2024 will grow up to be neighbours at peace.”

At the same time, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a Socialist Party leader who has spent months touring Europe and the Middle East to advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza, announced his country’s support before the Spanish Parliament.
(AP Photo/Omar Havana, File)

At the same time, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a Socialist Party leader who has spent months touring Europe and the Middle East to advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza, announced his country’s support before the Spanish Parliament.

“We know that this initiative won’t bring back the past and the lives lost in Palestine, but we believe that it will give the Palestinians two things that are very important for their present and their future: dignity and hope,” Sánchez said. “This recognition is not against anyone, it is not against the Israeli people. It is an act in favor of peace, justice and moral consistency.”

Including Ireland and Spain, seven of the European Union’s 27 members have affirmed Palestinian statehood, and the latest wave of announcements is expected to create momentum on the issue within the bloc. Additionally, 140 of the 190 countries represented in the United Nations have also endorsed a two-state solution, with a growing list of nations warming to the idea.

France, for example, said that it is not ready to give its endorsement, even though French leaders are not opposed to the idea in theory. French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné clarified that the recognition “must come at the right time so that there is a before and an after.”

“It is not just a symbolic question or an issue of political positioning, but a diplomatic tool serving the solution of two states living side by side, in peace and security,” he said. “France does not consider that the conditions were present now for this decision to have a real impact in this process.”

Croatia, the newest member of the EU, is likewise not ready to make a determination on the issue, Belgium and Malta are debating their position, Germany requires further international dialogue on the subject, and Slovenia has initiated the recognition process.

The United States and the United Kingdom, Israel’s two largest international allies, have refused to endorse a two-state model and said that such a solution needs to come through negotiation, not unilateral declarations.

In response to the declarations from Spain, Ireland, and Norway, Israel withdrew its ambassadors from all three countries, and the Israeli government accused their respective leaders of going soft on terrorism.

Meanwhile, a statement from Hamas celebrated the decision.

“We welcome the announcement by Norway, Ireland and Spain to recognize the State of Palestine, and we consider it an important step on the path to establishing our right to our land and establishing our independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” the militant group said. “We call on countries around the world to recognize our legitimate national rights, support the struggle of our people for liberation and independence, and end the Zionist occupation of our land.”