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Norway, Spain and Ireland recognise Palestinian statehood in historic move, Israel recalls ambassadors

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Stone said the recognition of Palestine is important for achieving a two-state solution and peace in the Middle East. The Irish government also announced a similar move on Tuesday, and many EU countries are likely moving towards recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Oslo Updated on: May 22, 2024 13:28 IST
Norway, Jonas Gahr Stone, Palestinian statehood
Image Source : NORWAY MFA (X) Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Stone and Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide announcing the recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Oslo: Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stone on Wednesday announced that his country will formally recognise Palestine as a state, amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. "There cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition," Gahr Stone asserted, adding that the step will be taken on May 28.

This follows the announcement of the Irish government to recognise a Palestinian state on Wednesday, a move strongly opposed by Israel, a source familiar with the matter said. The efforts come as a mounting death toll in Gaza from Israel's offensive to rout Hamas prompts calls globally for a ceasefire and lasting solution for peace in the region. Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said on Wednesday it was a move coordinated with Spain and Norway, “an historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine” to help move the ages-old conflict to a resolution.

"Recognition of Palestine is a means of supporting the moderate forces which have been losing ground in this protracted and brutal conflict. It also sends a strong message to other countries to follow the example of Norway and a number of other European countries and recognise the state of Palestine. This could ultimately make it possible to resume the process towards achieving a two-state solution and give it renewed momentum," said the Norwegian PM.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that his country will recognise Palestine as a state on May 28. Since 1988, 139 out of 193 UN member states have recognised Palestinian statehood. The Irish government has said recognition would complement peace efforts and support a two-state solution. However, Israel warned that recognition would lead to more terrorism and instability in the region and jeopardise peace prospects.

“The terror has been committed by Hamas and militant groups who are not supporters of a two-state solution and the state of Israel... Palestine has a fundamental right to an independent state,” the Norwegian government leader said. The move comes as Israeli forces have led assaults on the northern and southern edges of the Gaza Strip in May, causing a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, and sharply restricting the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

EU countries on recognising Palestinian statehood

Several European Union countries like Spain, Slovenia and Malta have in the past weeks indicated that they plan to make the recognition, arguing a two-state solution is essential for lasting peace in the region. Norway is not a member of the European Union but mirrors its moves, and has been an ardent supporter of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in March that Spain and Ireland, along with Slovenia and Malta, had agreed to take the first steps towards recognition of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, seeing a two-state solution as essential for lasting peace. EU foreign chief Josep Borrell also indicated that countries are planning to recognise Palestinian statehood.

"This is a symbolic act of a political nature. More than a state, it recognises the will for that state to exist," he said, adding that Belgium and other countries would probably follow. Israel has said plans for Palestinian recognition constitute a "prize for terrorism" that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the Gaza conflict.

Israel recalls ambassadors from Ireland and Norway

Norway’s recognition of a Palestine state comes more than 30 years after the first Oslo agreement was signed in 1993. Since then, “the Palestinians have taken important steps towards a two-state solution,” the Norwegian government said. It said that the World Bank determined that Palestine had met key criteria to function as a state in 2011, and that national institutions have been built up to provide the population with important services.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz has ordered Israel’s ambassadors from Ireland and Norway to immediately return to Israel after their announcements on recognising Palestine as an independent state. “Ireland and Norway intend to send a message today to the Palestinians and the whole world: terrorism pays,” Katz said.

He said that the recognition could impede efforts to return Israel’s hostages being held in Gaza and make a cease-fire less likely by “rewarding the jihadists of Hamas and Iran.” He also threatened to recall Israel’s ambassador to Spain if the country takes a similar position.

(with inputs from agencies)

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