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Norway, Ireland and Spain say they will recognize a Palestinian state

Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store speaks during a news conference in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday. Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz has ordered Israel's ambassadors from Ireland and Norway to immediately return to Israel, as Norway said it would recognize a Palestinian state and Ireland was expected to do the same.
Erik Flaaris Johansen
/
AP
Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store speaks during a news conference in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday. Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz has ordered Israel's ambassadors from Ireland and Norway to immediately return to Israel, as Norway said it would recognize a Palestinian state and Ireland was expected to do the same.

BARCELONA, Spain — Norway, Ireland and Spain recognized a Palestinian state on Wednesday in a historic move that drew condemnation from Israel and jubilation from the Palestinians. Israel ordered back its ambassadors from Norway and Ireland.

It was a lightning cascade of announcements. First was Norway, whose Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said "there cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition."

Gahr Støre said the Scandinavian country will officially recognize a Palestinian state as of May 28. "By recognizing a Palestinian state, Norway supports the Arab peace plan," he said.

Several European Union countries 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, which is not a member of the European Union but mirror its moves, has been an ardent supporter of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The terror has been committed by Hamas and militant groups who are not supporters of a two-state solution and the state of Israel," the Norwegian government leader said. "Palestine has a fundamental right to an independent state."

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 restricted the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

The Scandinavian country "will therefore regard Palestine as an independent state with all the rights and obligations that entails," Gahr Støre said.

The development 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 a Palestinian state had met key criteria to function as a state in 2011, that national institutions have been built up to provide the population with important services.

"The war in Gaza and the constant expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank still mean that the situation in Palestine is more difficult than it has been in decades," the Norwegian government said.

Also Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris made his announcement, saying it was a move coordinated with Spain and Norway, "an historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine." He said the move was intended to help move the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to resolution through a two-state solution.

The Irish prime minister said he thinks other countries will join Norway, Spain and Ireland in recognizing a Palestinian state "in the weeks ahead."

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that his country will recognize a Palestinian state also on May 28. Sánchez, Spain's Socialist leader since 2018, made the expected announcement to the nation's Parliament on Wednesday.

Sánchez has spent months touring European and Middle Eastern countries to garner support for the recognition of a Palestinian state, as well as a possible ceasefire in Gaza. He has said several times that he was committed to the move.

Earlier this month, Spain's Foreign Minister José Albares said he had informed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken of his government's intention of recognizing a Palestinian state.

The fast-moving developments drew Israel's condemnation. Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz ordered Israel's ambassadors from Ireland and Norway to immediately return to Israel, as Norway said it would recognize a Palestinian state and Ireland was expected to do the same.

"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 makes 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.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Norway's recognition of a Palestinian state and called on other countries to follow.

In a statement carried by the official Wafa news agency, he says Norway's decision, announced Wednesday, will enshrine "the Palestinian people's right to self-determination" and support efforts to bring about a two-state solution with Israel.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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