From the blog

ISRAEL GAZA WAR: Ireland, Norway & Spain To Recognise Palestinian State As Israel Recalls Envoys

Ireland, Spain and Norway have announced they will formally recognise a Palestinian state on 28 May, triggering an immediate response from Israel, which recalled its ambassadors from Dublin, Madrid and Oslo, and withholding vital funds from the Palestinian Authority.

The three European governments made the long-awaited announcements in coordinated moves on Wednesday morning that they said were intended to support a two-state solution and foster peace in the Middle East.

Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz branded the show of support for the Palestinians a “folly”, adding: “History will remember that Spain, Norway and Ireland decided to award a gold medal to the murderers and rapists of Hamas.”

Ireland’s taoiseach, Simon Harris, said Palestine had a legitimate right to statehood. “It is a statement of unequivocal support for a two-state solution, the only credible path to peace and security for Israel, for Palestine and for their peoples,” he told a press conference in Dublin. “I’m confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks.”

In Oslo, Norway’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, said there could not be peace in the Middle East without recognition, and that Norway would regard Palestine as an independent state “with all the rights and obligations that entails”.

The Palestinian Authority – which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank – welcomed the announcement, as did Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since driving the authority out in 2007.

Israel’s far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, reacted by announcing he would no longer send tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority as punishment for its “pursuit of unilateral recognition as a nation and within the framework of bilateral agreements with several countries”.

The developments came amid a grinding seven-month war in Gaza that has prompted global calls for a lasting solution for peace in the region, as well as the pursuit of arrest warrants on war crimes charges by the international criminal court.

Sánchez accused Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of presiding over massacres, and reiterated demands for a ceasefire.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is still turning a blind eye and bombing hospitals, schools, homes,” the Spanish leader said. “He is still using hunger, cold and terror to punish more than a million innocent boys and girls – and things have gone so far that prosecutors at the international criminal court have this week sought his arrest for war crimes.”

Sánchez has been one of the most outspoken European leaders when it comes to criticism of Israel’s offensive in Gaza. He has also said repeatedly that a two-state solution remains the only answer to the crisis in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, France and Belgium have thrown their support behind the ICC’s war crimes arrest warrants for leaders of both Israel and Hamas.