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24 Nov, 2023 18:32

EU member state may recognize Palestine unilaterally – PM

Spain will make its own decision if the bloc is unwilling, Pedro Sanchez has said
EU member state may recognize Palestine unilaterally – PM

Spain is willing to move ahead by itself on the matter of recognizing Palestinian statehood, though it would prefer to act alongside other EU members, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Friday.

Spain currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, which Belgium will take over in January. Sanchez and his Belgian counterpart, Alexander De Croo, spoke to reporters at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, just before the Qatar-brokered “humanitarian pause” and release of 13 Israeli hostages

Asked if he would support unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state, Sanchez declared that “the moment has come” for the EU and the rest of the “international community” to do so.

“It would be important if many member states of the EU, we do it all together,” the Spanish PM said. “If this is not the case, of course, Spain will take their own decisions.”

On Thursday, Sanchez and DeCroo met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as part of their regional mission to stop the conflict in Gaza. 

After the meeting with Netanyahu, Sanchez told reporters that “today, peace means the establishment of a viable Palestinian state that includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, according to the UN resolutions.”

At the press conference in Rafah, Sanchez called for a peace conference “to implement a two-state solution,” at which both Israel and the Palestinians would be represented. 

“We need to replace violence with hope, with peace,” Sanchez argued. “We must offer the Palestinian people a future of hope.”

While Israel has the right to defend itself, it needs to stay within the boundaries of international humanitarian law, “and this is not the case,” Sanchez noted, describing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) offensive against Gaza as “indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians” and “completely unacceptable.”

Netanyahu declared war on Hamas after the October 7 attack by the Gaza-based Palestinian group resulted in the deaths of 1,200 Israelis, with over 200 taken captive. Since then, according to local officials, almost 15,000 Palestinians – including 6,000 children – have been killed in the enclave.