Spain Calls For European Recognition Of Palestine As A State.

Photo: Government of Spain. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain favours recognizing Palestine as a state by July of this year.
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Spain is on a mission to get Palestine recognized as a state by July and is trying to persuade its neighbours in Europe to go along with the idea.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a longtime supporter of Palestinian rights, sees recognition as a way of reaching a two-state solution and a possible key to ending the devastating conflict that began in October.

“The time has come for the international community to once and for all recognise the State of Palestine,” he said in November. “It is something that many EU countries believe we have to do jointly, but if this is not the case, Spain will adopt its own decision.”

In all, 139 out of 193 United Nations member states consider Palestine as a state. Those which do include European nations such as Iceland, Poland and Romania, as well as countries like Russia, China and Nigeria.

The European Union as a whole does not recognise Palestine, nor do states including the United States, France and the United Kingdom.

Sanchez, who has discussed the issue on his recent trips abroad, has declared that his country has agreed with Ireland, Malta, and Slovenia on the need for recognition.

That four European governments are in favour of the move while others are against is a sign that the EU, as an institution, is deeply divided.

Earlier this week, Portuguese premier Luis Montenegro told Sanchez that his government would “not go as far” as Spain without a joint European approach.

Sanchez, who has discussed the issue on his recent trips abroad, has declared that his country has agreed with Ireland, Malta, and Slovenia on the need for recognition.

That four European governments are in favour of the move while others are against is a sign that the EU, as an institution, is deeply divided.

Earlier this week, Portuguese premier Luis Montenegro told Sanchez that his government would “not go as far” as Spain without a joint European approach.

But it is not surprising to see Ireland, Malta, Slovenia, and Spain taking the lead among EU members on this front, given their long-held positions in support of Palestinian self-determination.

The four governments would have preferred to make the move within the EU framework, which would have given them far more leverage, but the pro-Israel positions of Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and others would stand in the way.

To that end, policymakers in Dublin, Ljubljana, Madrid, and Valletta determined that their best possible course of action was to move ahead in this relatively small group of like-minded EU members.

It is possible that a few more European countries will join soon later and agree to recognise the State of Palestine, said experts.

“This decision might trigger a few more recognitions, but I do not expect an avalanche,” Marco Carnelos, former Italian ambassador to Iraq, told Al Jazeera. “Other EU member states will watch what the big members like Germany, France, and Italy will do.”

According to Carnelos, there are “no chances” of Germany or Italy under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni agreeing to such a move.

As for France, “maybe”, he said.

Belgium, whose officials have been more critical of the war and called for economic sanctions on Israel, has said it will consider recognising Palestine.

“Belgium holds the rotating presidency of the EU this semester and this is most likely the reason why the Belgian government has not joined Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, and Malta in their push to recognise Palestine,” Marc Martorell Junyent, a Munich-based journalist, told Al Jazeera.

Other EU members will likely watch closely to see whether the move has negative repercussions on ties with the US, Israel’s top ally, or Israel itself.

Nonetheless, beyond “some verbal reaction” from the pair, Carnelos does not expect any concrete actions, such as the downgrading of diplomatic relations or economic sanctions.

In November, Israel summoned Belgium and Spain’s ambassadors after the leaders of both nations denounced alleged war crimes in Gaza. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen went as far as accusing them of giving “support to terrorism” at that time.

“In the case of Spain, Israel withdrew her ambassador for some time. Something similar could happen if Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, and Malta push for Palestine’s recognition,” said Martorell.

In March, Foreign Minister Israel Katz warned the four countries against recognising Palestine, likening the plan to a “prize for terrorism”.

Israel’s latest military campaign in Gaza is by far its deadliest.

This stage of the Israel-Palestine conflict began after Hamas, the group which governs the enclave, attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,139 people and taking more than 200 captive. Some of the captives have been released, others have died, and dozens remain held.

Israel has been bombarding Gaza with the stated aim of crushing Hamas, but with mostly women and children among the dead and much of the Strip reduced to rubble, that goal remains elusive.

In recent months, several global powers have called for Israeli restraint, including Washington.

Source: Al Jazeera.
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