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Spain, Norway, Ireland formally recognize Palestine statehood

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a statement about the country’s official recognition of Palestine's statehood, in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday. Spain, Ireland and Norway announced they will officially recognize Palestine as a state as of 28 May 2024. Photo by Borja Puig De La Bellacasa/EPA-EFE
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a statement about the country’s official recognition of Palestine's statehood, in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday. Spain, Ireland and Norway announced they will officially recognize Palestine as a state as of 28 May 2024. Photo by Borja Puig De La Bellacasa/EPA-EFE

May 28 (UPI) -- The governments of Spain, Norway and Ireland formally recognized Palestine as a state, angering Israel.

Spain's President Pedro Sanchez made the announcement on Tuesday in a recorded statement. Speaking in English, he described the move as "historic" with the single goal of "achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

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"The recognition of the State of Palestine is not only a matter of historical justice with the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people: it is also an urgent need," he said.

"It is the only way towards the only possible solution to achieve a future of peace: that of a Palestinian State that coexists alongside the State of Israel in peace and security."

Spain, Norway and Ireland announced last week amid growing international criticism of Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza their intentions to recognize Palestine as a state.

Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Espen Barth Eide presented a document to Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa formalizing the recognition during a meeting in Brussels on Sunday.

"It was important to be able to present a formal document to Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa in person," Eide said in a government statement. "He greatly values Norway's engagement and our efforts to promote a two-state solution.

"Norway's recognition of Palestine as a state is a clear message of support to the moderate forces in both countries."

Ireland said on Tuesday it agreed to also follow through on its pledge during a meeting, agreeing to establish full diplomatic relations.

"This decision of Ireland is about keeping hope alive," Ireland's Taoiseach Simon Harris said in a statement. "It is about believing that a two-state solution is the only way for Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace and security.

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"We wanted to recognize Palestine at the end of a peace process however we have made this move alongside Spain and Norway to keep the miracle of peace alive."

Israel was quick to admonish the countries for their decision, summoning their ambassadors. It also blocked Spain's consulate from providing services to Palestinians in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz of Israel accused Sanchez of being "complicit in inciting the murder of the Jewish people and war crimes."

Some 140 countries already recognize Palestine as a state and enjoy bilateral relations with it.

Sanchez in his statement said the state of Palestine must be viable and see the West Bank and Gaza connected by a corridor with East Jerusalem as its capital. Its government, he said, must be the Palestine National Authority.

He added that Spain will work to increase Palestine's presence in international organizations.

"The recognition of Palestine is not against anyone, least of all Israel, a friendly nation that Spain values and holds in high regard, and with whom we aim to foster the strongest possible relationship," he said.

He added the decision also reflects Spain's "absolute rejection" of Hamas, which he called a terrorist organization.

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The Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7 when the Iran proxy militia killed 1,200 Israelis and took another 250 hostages in a surprise attack on the Middle Eastern country.

In response, Israel has been waging war against Hamas in Gaza, killing more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Amid the war and the ballooning death toll, Israel has come under increasing international criticism over its methods of waging war, including from Western allies, such as the United States.

The criticism has only increased as Israel conducts a military campaign in the southern Gazan city of Rafah where hundreds of thousands of civilians were sheltering from the war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Monday dismissed the criticism as undermining negotiations for Hamas to release hostages and called for the condemnation to be heaped on Hamas.

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