The Spanish Prime Minister recognizes the Palestinian state as the gap between the EU and Israel widens

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A photo of a TV screen taken on May 28, 2024, shows Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivering a speech on Spain’s recognition of the Palestinian state at La Moncloa Palace in Madrid. | Photo credit: AFP

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the Spanish cabinet will recognize a Palestinian state at its May 28 morning meeting as the rift between the European Union and Israel widens.

Ireland and Norway were also expected to make their recognition of a Palestinian state official later in the day. Although dozens of countries have recognized a Palestinian state, none of the major Western powers have done so.

“This is a historic decision that has only one goal, and that is to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace,” Sánchez said, standing at the gate of the Prime Minister’s Palace in Madrid, during a televised address.

The socialist leader, who announced his country’s decision before parliament last week, has spent months touring European and Middle Eastern countries to drum up support for recognition and a ceasefire in Gaza.

EU-Israel relations soured on Monday, on the eve of diplomatic recognition of EU member states Ireland and Spain, with Madrid insisting the EU must take action against Israel over its continued deadly attacks in the southern city of Rafah of Gaza.

Norway, which is not an EU member but often aligns its foreign policy with the bloc, handed over diplomatic papers to the Palestinian government this weekend ahead of formal recognition of a Palestinian state.

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Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Spain that its consulate in Jerusalem will not be allowed to help the Palestinians.

At the same time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has expressed support for the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others, including leaders of the militant Hamas group.

In his speech on Tuesday, Mr Sánchez said that the recognition of a Palestinian state “is a decision that we do not take against anyone, and certainly not against Israel, a friendly people that we respect, that we value and with whom we will do the best possible want to have a relationship.â€

He called for a permanent ceasefire, an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the release of the hostages Hamas has held since the October 7 attack that sparked Israel’s response.

Mr Sánchez also set out his vision for a state ruled by the Palestinian National Authority, linking the West Bank and Gaza to East Jerusalem through a corridor.

“We will not recognize any changes to the 1967 border lines other than those agreed to by the parties,” Mr Sánchez added.

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