Benjamin Netanyahu, Mariyinsky Palace
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Mariyinsky Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine on August 19, 2019. Photo credit: President of Ukraine / Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0 DEED)

Three European countries recognized a Palestinian state on Wednesday, resulting in a diplomatic row and heaping more pressure on Israel.

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Following the historic decision of Spain, Norway, and Ireland to recognize a Palestinian state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at these countries and accused them of “rewarding terrorism.”

That was the latest development in a week that has seen a flurry of activity, beginning on Monday with the announcement that International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

On Wednesday, things started with the coordinated announcement of the leaders of the three European countries. It was a savvy move since this would mean that no single country would have to take this first step and suffer the wrath of Israel alone.

“We are going to recognize Palestine for many reasons, and we can sum that up in three words: peace, justice and consistency,” said Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in a speech to the Spanish parliament. “We have to make sure that the two-state solution is respected and there must be mutual guarantees of security.”

That sentiment was echoed in Dublin and Oslo, with Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, stating that only the recognition of a Palestinian state would bring peace to the Middle East. Meantime, noting that he is confident that other countries will follow their example, Ireland’s Taoiseach Simon Harris made the case that a two-state solution is “the only credible path to peace and security for Israel, for Palestine, and for their peoples.”

Israel did not quite see it that way.

The country immediately recalled its ambassadors from the three European countries, and Netanyahu strongly condemned their announcements.

“The intention of several European countries to recognize a Palestinian state is a reward for terrorism,” he said in a video statement.

Netanyahu added that 80 percent of Palestinians support the Hamas terrorist attack from October 7, in which more than 1,100 Israelis were killed — most of them civilians. In addition, about 250 people were abducted, including children, and countless others were injured and raped.

The Israeli prime minister argued that a Palestinian state “would be a terrorist state.”

“Rewarding terrorism will not bring peace, and neither will it stop us from defeating Hamas,” he added.

Of course, Israel’s efforts to do so have not only resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians (according to Israel, it has killed 14,000 Hamas fighters and 16,000 civilians. The Hamas-run Ministry of Health stated that even more people have been killed), but also a public relations nightmare.

While the country enjoyed broad public support across the globe following the attacks, its brutal response has turned public sentiment against Israel.

Therefore, Netanyahu’s claim that these announcements would be a reward for terror does not hold water.

Instead, its critics would argue that the decision to recognize a Palestinian state is an admonishment of the death and suffering Israel has caused in Gaza since the attack.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is still turning a blind eye and bombing hospitals, schools, homes,” said Sánchez. “He is still using hunger, cold and terror to punish more than a million innocent boys and girls.”


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