Palestinian State Recognized by European Nations as EU Debates Sanctions on Israel

Spain, Ireland, and Norway's official recognition of the Palestinian state today, coupled with the EU's discussions on potential sanctions against Israel, marks a significant shift in international diplomatic efforts amidst the ongoing Gaza confl

by Sededin Dedovic
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Palestinian State Recognized by European Nations as EU Debates Sanctions on Israel
© Carl Court / Getty Images

Spain, Ireland, and Norway will officially recognize the Palestinian state today, a move Israel condemns as rewarding Hamas after more than seven months of war in Gaza. The three European countries believe their initiative holds a strong symbolic impact that will likely encourage others to follow their example.

Norway and Spain played a historic role in the effort to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians in 1991 when the two sides met in Madrid at a peace conference that paved the way for the Oslo Accords in 1993, named after the Norwegian capital where the negotiations took place.

Spanish Foreign Minister Manuel Albares stated on Monday in Brussels that recognizing the state of Palestine is justice for the Palestinian people and "the best guarantee for Israel's security and absolutely necessary for achieving peace in the region." The recognition of Palestine was individually announced last week by the prime ministers of the three countries, and today it will be done officially together.

Washington and most Western European countries have said they are willing to recognize Palestinian statehood one day, but not before an agreement on explosive issues such as the status of Jerusalem and final borders. As of today, 145 out of 193 UN countries recognize Palestinian statehood.

Among them are Middle Eastern, African, and Asian countries, but not the US, Canada, most of Western Europe, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

Europe imposes sanctions on Israel?

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union for the first time led a "significant discussion" on imposing sanctions on Israel if it does not comply with international humanitarian law, Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin said today.

"There was a very clear consensus on the need to support international humanitarian legal institutions," Martin told reporters after a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, reports Politico. The International Court of Justice ruled on Friday that Israel must immediately stop the offensive in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, and open the Rafah border crossing so that humanitarian aid can flow freely into the enclave.

Police stand outside a building of Humboldt University occupied inside by pro-Palestine students on May 23, 2024 in Berlin, Germ© Michele Tantussi / Getty Images

Not only did Israel continue its attacks on Rafah, but on Sunday it bombed a refugee camp, killing at least 45 Palestinians, more than half of whom were women, children, and the elderly.

For the first time at an EU meeting, I saw a significant discussion about sanctions, Martin said, adding that there is great concern among member states about the disregard for the clear ruling of the ICJ, as the Union has always supported the independence of that court and the need for nations to comply with its decisions.

"One of the conclusions was to convene a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council to express our serious concern and demand that Israel comply with the Court's orders," Martin said. Israel's foreign press department told Politico that they cannot comment on Martin's statements and emphasized that the circumstances under which civilians in the Rafah refugee camp were killed are being investigated.

Great pressure on Israel from all sides

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) today filed a new complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for "war crimes committed by Israel against journalists." They are asking the prosecutor to investigate crimes committed against at least nine Palestinian reporters between December 15 and May 20, as well as the killings of more than 100 journalists in Gaza on October 7, according to RSF's statement.

It also reiterates the prosecutor's request to adhere to Article 15 of the Rome Statute of the ICC and to prioritize investigating crimes committed by the Israeli military against journalists in Gaza since the beginning of the war.

"RSF has filed a third complaint with the International Criminal Court based in The Hague because the number of journalists killed by the Israeli military in Gaza continues to rise after surpassing 100, effectively decimating Palestinian media," the statement said.

The previous two complaints were filed on October 31 and December 22. All journalists mentioned in the complaints were killed on duty. "RSF has reasonable grounds to believe that some of these journalists were deliberately killed, while others were victims of deliberate attacks by the Israeli military on civilians," it added.

The recognition of Palestine by Spain, Ireland and Norway marks a significant turning point in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision comes at a time when the region is experiencing heightened tensions and continued violence.

For many Palestinians, the recognition represents a long overdue acknowledgment of their right to statehood and self-determination. It is seen as a step towards balancing the scales of international diplomacy, which many argue has been tilted in Israel's favor for decades.

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