Israel furious as European trio recognises Palestinian state

Israel furious as European trio recognises Palestinian state

Israel reacted with fury after three European countries said Wednesday they would recognise a Palestinian state, more than seven months into the devastating Gaza war.

Israel furious as European trio recognises Palestinian state

Ireland, Norway and Spain said they would formally recognise the State of Palestine on May 28, drawing praise from many countries in the Arab and Muslim world.

Israel charged that the move amounts to "rewarding terrorism" after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched its October 7 attack which sparked the Gaza war.

Israel said immediately that it was recalling its envoys to Dublin, Oslo and Madrid for "urgent consultations" and also summoned the three European ambassadors for a rebuke.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz charged that "the twisted step of these countries is an injustice to the memory of the 7/10 victims".

"They decided to award a gold medal to the murderers and rapists of Hamas."

Most Western governments, including the United States, say they are willing to one day recognise Palestinian statehood -- but not before thorny issues are settled, including on final borders and the status of Jerusalem.

But Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said that "recognition of Palestine is a means of supporting the moderate forces which have been losing ground in this protracted and brutal conflict".

"In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Two states, living side by side, in peace and security."

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez charged that his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu is "causing so much pain, destruction and resentment in Gaza and the rest of Palestine that the two-state solution is in danger".

And Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris called the October 7 attack "barbaric" but stressed that "a two-state solution is the only way out of the generational cycles of violence, retaliation and resentment".

- 'Essential step -

According to the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the occupied West Bank, 142 of the 193 UN member countries already recognise a Palestinian state.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation, seen internationally as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, hailed the European moves as "historical".

Hamas also welcomed "an important step towards affirming our right to our land", while Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas political bureau member, said it will mark "a turning point in the international position on the Palestinian issue".

A Palestinian in war-torn Gaza's southern city of Rafah, Ismail Hassouna, 46, said the European trio's decision was a step that "will restore hope" and should help in efforts to "stop Israel from its heinous crimes".

Political analyst Ines Abdul Razek, who heads the Palestine Institute for Public Democracy labelled the decision symbolic but said it was "not a great victory".

"What we need is actual measures, including sanctions and arms embargoes, that can stop the genocide, the erasure of our people and colonisation of our land, which Israel has been conducting with total impunity," said Abdul Razek.

Hamas's attack on October 7 resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

The militants also took 252 hostages, 124 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,647 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

Israel also imposed a siege that has deprived Gaza's 2.4 million people of most water, food, medical supplies and fuel, and brought much of the population to the brink of famine.

- Deadly fighting -

Heavy fighting has raged around Rafah, the last part of Gaza to face a ground invasion, where an AFP team reported more air and artillery strikes early Wednesday.

Heavy battles have also rocked Gaza's northern and central areas where Hamas forces have regrouped, and more Israeli air strikes have hit Gaza City, Jabalia and Zeitun.

Ten people were killed in the central town of Al-Zawaida during the night, according to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

And the Gaza civil defence agency said six bodies were recovered from the rubble of a family house in Jabalia.

The World Health Organization has said northern Gaza's last two functioning hospitals, Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan, were besieged by Israeli forces, with more than 200 patients trapped inside.

Israeli troops began their ground assault on Rafah early this month, defying international opposition over fears for the more than one million civilians trapped in the city.

Israel has ordered mass evacuations from the city, and the UN says more than 800,000 people have fled.

Heavy fighting has also rocked the other major Palestinian territory, the occupied West Bank, where an Israeli raid entered its second day in the city of Jenin.

Explosions and gunfire were heard from inside the Jenin refugee camp, an AFP correspondent said, after eight Palestinians were killed on Tuesday.

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