Israeli minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90) Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Israel’s FM: ‘Any engagement in the recognition of a Palestinian state only distances reaching a resolution and increases regional instability.’

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

Israel’s foreign ministry on Monday warned four EU member states that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would effectively amount to a reward for terrorism.

“Recognition of a Palestinian state following the October 7 massacre sends a message to Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations that murderous terror attacks on Israelis will be reciprocated with political gestures to the Palestinians,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat declared on X/Twitter.

Haiat added that a “resolution of the conflict will only be possible through direct negotiations between the parties. Any engagement in the recognition of a Palestinian state only distances reaching a resolution and increases regional instability.”

The foreign ministry was responding to a joint announcement on the sidelines of last Thursday’s European Council meeting in Brussels issued by Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, and Malta. The four EU members stated that they had “agreed on the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages and a rapid, massive and sustained increase of humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

Signed by their four respective prime ministers — including the now former Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who abruptly announced his resignation last week — the statement continued: “We are agreed that the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region is through implementation of a two-state solution, with Israeli and Palestinian States living side-by-side, in peace and security. We discussed together our readiness to recognize Palestine and said that we would do so when it can make a positive contribution and the circumstances are right.”

Haiat said that the “comments of the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, about recognizing a Palestinian state, as well as the joint statement by Spain, Malta, Slovenia, and Ireland about their readiness to recognize a Palestinian state, constitute a reward for terrorism.”

At the same time, Spain appears to be moving away from its threat to recognize a Palestinian state unilaterally, as was suggested last November by Sanchez. Speaking in Brussels, Sanchez said that Madrid would prefer to coordinate recognition with other EU member states.

“We want to take this step united. It’s a decisive step in order to lay the foundations of a lasting peace,” he said. Sanchez also argued that the fact the four leaders represented all sides of the political spectrum — with Spain and Malta governed by centre-left parties, Slovenia by a Liberal party, and Ireland by a centre-right party — demonstrated a broad consensus that the recognition of State of Palestine is necessary for any future peace process.

Slovene Prime Minister Robert Golob separately pledged a greater effort at the UN to secure recognition of a Palestinian state. Golob said that conditions for doing so may be “ripe” within “a few weeks, maybe a month.”

However, European Council President Charles Michel said last Friday that recognition was not yet on the 27-member bloc’s agenda.

“The debate on the recognition of Palestine was not on the table,” Michel said following the Brussels parley. “But I will share with you what I think about it. I think that if the idea is to start a kind of process so it’s possible to take into account steps that could be made on both sides — by the Palestinian Authority, for instance, and by Israel— then it could be a useful process.”

On Monday, a Spanish government spokesperson told the Publico news outlet that while Israel was considered a “friendly” country, reviving the peace process was the key imperative.

“Spain is a sovereign country that makes its decisions in accordance with international humanitarian law,” the spokesperson said.

The influence of the four states on the EU as a whole is limited, moreover. According to the most recent budget figures available, only eight EU member states, led by Germany and France, are net contributors to the bloc. Of the four states pushing for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, only Ireland is a net contributor, while Spain, Malta, and Slovenia are classed as beneficiaries. Additionally, both Malta and the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia are relatively new members, having acceded to the EU in 2004.

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