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The Hypocrisy of Spain, Ireland & Norway’s Decision to Recognize a Palestinian State  

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Edited by: Fern Sidman

In a controversial and ill-timed decision, Spain, Ireland, and Norway announced on Wednesday their recognition of a Palestinian state, a move that has sparked intense backlash from Israel and its allies. This decision, seen by many as a reprehensible reward for terrorism, undermines the complex dynamics of the Israel-Hamas conflict and sets a dangerous precedent in international diplomacy.

On October 7th, Hamas, a designated terrorist organization by multiple nations including the United States and the European Union, launched a brutal attack on Israel in which 1200 Israelis and others were brutally massacred and 250 others were abducted into captivity in Gaza.  This massacre, characterized by barbaric violence and ruthless terror targeting civilians, has escalated the already volatile situation in Gaza, prompting a robust military response from Israel aimed at dismantling Hamas’s infrastructure and ensuring the security of its citizens.

The announcements from Dublin, Madrid, and Oslo to recognize a Palestinian state come at a critical juncture. These countries framed their decisions as efforts to accelerate a ceasefire and promote peace. However, this unilateral recognition ignores the context of ongoing terrorism and violence, effectively rewarding Hamas for its actions.

“We hope that our recognition and our reasons contribute to other western countries following this path, because the more we are, the more strength we will have to impose a ceasefire, to achieve the release of the hostages held by Hamas, to relaunch the political process that can lead to a peace agreement,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament, as was reported by Reuters.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the only possible political solution between Israelis and Palestinians was “two states living side by side in peace and security”. Reuters also reported that Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said he did not expect the recognition to stop the war in Gaza, but it was “a key component” for an Arab-led peace initiative.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Simon Harris told a Dublin press conference that Ireland also completely supported the recognition of an independent Palestinian state in the hopes of achieving peace in an otherwise volatile region of the world.

Spain’s stance is particularly hypocritical given its own history with terrorism. During the Basque conflict, Spain faced terrorist attacks from the Basque separatist group ETA. The international community did not pressure Spain to surrender or recognize Basque statehood in response to terrorism. Instead, Spain was supported in its efforts to combat terrorism and maintain its territorial integrity. Now, Spain’s recognition of Palestinian statehood amidst ongoing terrorism against Israel sends a contradictory message: it demands that Israel do what Spain would never have accepted.

Ireland and Norway’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state in the immediate aftermath of such a terror attack sends a troubling message. It suggests that terrorism can lead to political gains, undermining the efforts to combat such acts globally and destabilizing efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Ireland’s decision is particularly hypocritical given its own history with terrorism. For decades, Ireland faced violent terrorism from the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland. The IRA’s campaign of bombings, assassinations, and other violent acts caused widespread suffering and instability.

Imagine if the international community had responded to IRA attacks by recognizing a separate Irish state or suggesting that the IRA’s terrorism was justified. Such actions would have undermined the legitimate government and efforts to establish peace in the region. By recognizing Palestinian statehood following Hamas’s terror attacks, Ireland is doing precisely what it would have vehemently opposed in its own context.

Norway’s involvement is particularly noteworthy given its historical role in the Oslo peace process. The Oslo Accords were intended to pave the way for a negotiated settlement leading to a Palestinian state. Recognizing statehood in the absence of a negotiated agreement undermines the very foundations of this peace process.

Israel, like any sovereign nation, has the right to defend itself against terrorist threats. Recognizing a Palestinian state in the wake of the Hamas massacre undermines this fundamental right. It delegitimizes Israel’s defensive measures and unfairly shifts the narrative to one that favors the aggressors.

According to a Reuters report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned this move, stating, “The intention of several European countries to recognize a Palestinian state is a reward for terrorism. This would be a terrorist state. It would try to carry out the October 7 massacre again and again – and that, we shall not agree to.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has warned that this decision will carry “severe consequences.” The immediate recall of Israeli ambassadors from these countries for consultations calls attention to the seriousness with which Israel views this recognition. It signals a significant diplomatic rift and highlights the potential repercussions for international relations.

Globally, about 144 of the 193 UN member states recognize Palestine as a state, including most of the global south, Russia, China, and India, as per the report on Reuters. However, among the European Union’s 27 members, only a few have taken this step, and key allies such as the United States, Britain, and Australia maintain that Palestinian statehood should be achieved through negotiations, not unilateral recognition.

The United States, Israel’s main ally, continues to support a two-state solution but firmly opposes recognizing Palestine without a negotiated agreement. The European Union remains divided on the issue. While some member states such as Sweden and Cyprus have recognized Palestine, others are wary of the implications of unilateral recognition. Spain, Ireland, and Norway’s decision risks deepening these divisions and complicating the EU’s collective foreign policy.

Reuters reported that Alon Liel, a former director general of Israel’s foreign ministry, noted that the move by Spain, Ireland, and Norway could influence Israeli public opinion. Equalizing the status of Israel and Palestine in the international sphere is seen as a nightmare for the current Israeli leadership, which could lead to increased internal pressure on the government.

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