MADRID – The Israeli government has summoned the ambassadors of Spain and Belgium following criticism over remarks made by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during their visit to the Rafah border crossing.
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, labelled their comments as “false” and accused them of endorsing terrorism. This move reflects the growing tension and complex geopolitical dynamics surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Spain’s deliberation on recognising Palestinian statehood
In a significant development, during his recent trip to Israel, Sánchez acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defense while simultaneously asserting that Israel must comply with international and humanitarian law. Sánchez’s statements took a bold turn as he opened the possibility of Spain unilaterally recognising the state of Palestine in the absence of a collective move from the European Union. This stance of Spain, potentially breaking away from a joint EU position, has drawn sharp criticism from Israel, placing Sánchez and De Croo among the most vocally critical European leaders against Israel’s policies.
Escalating tensions and European stance on Palestine
Consequently, the question of Palestinian statehood has been a contentious issue in European diplomacy. As of now, at least 16 European countries have formally recognised the two states. The Spanish Congress, back in 2014, passed a motion with a significant majority, including support from the PP (People’s Party), advocating for the recognition of the Palestinian state. This motion has gained renewed attention in the context of the recent escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The Spanish Socialists, a key political force in the country, have emphasised the need to balance any such recognition with the legitimate concerns, interests, and aspirations of the State of Israel. This approach underscores Spain’s intent to navigate the complex and sensitive nature of Middle Eastern politics while advocating for peace and stability in the region.
Broader implications and future outlook
The increasing support for Palestinian statehood within Europe is indicative of a changing diplomatic landscape, where nations are increasingly willing to assert their positions independently. However, the reactions from Israel highlight the challenges and sensitivities involved in addressing such a long-standing and deeply rooted conflict.