Middle East Monitor, London
Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said on Friday that Madrid is open to unilaterally recognising a Palestinian State, even if it goes against the opinion of the European Union, Anadolu Agency reports.
‘I think that the moment has come for the international community, especially for the European Union and its member states, to recognise the State of Palestine,’ Sanchez told media during a press conference on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing.
Sanchez said that ideally, the recognition would come all at once with at least several member states participating.
‘But, if this is not the case, of course, Spain will take its own decisions,’ said the newly re-elected Spanish Premier, who previously vowed that recognising the State of Palestine was a priority for his upcoming term.
Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, joined Sanchez on his tour of Israel, Palestine and Egypt.
Over the trip, both leaders called for the protection of the civilian population in Gaza and for Israel to respect international humanitarian law.
On Friday, after their press conference at the Rafah crossing, Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, ordered the summoning of the Spanish and Belgian ambassadors in Tel Aviv for a “harsh rebuke”.
“We condemn the false claims of the Prime Ministers of Spain and Belgium who are giving support to terrorism,” he posted on the social media network X, defending that Israel is “acting according to international law.”
While the Belgian leader was more contained in his language, Sanchez said Israel was not following international law and accused it of the “indiscriminate killing” of “thousands of children” in Gaza.
Sanchez also firmly condemned the 7 October Hamas attacks.
“Violence will only lead to more violence. We need to replace violence with hope and peace. This is what I told the Israeli President and Prime Minister,” said Sanchez at the Rafah border crossing.
Speaking on whether Belgium would recognise Palestine, De Croo said the first priority was freeing the hostages held by Hamas and helping alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
“Then, we will need to sit around the table and discuss the subject,” said De Croo.
Currently, nine out of the 27 EU member states recognise the State of Palestine. In 2014, Sweden became the first country to do so while being an EU member state.
Earlier on Friday, the Belgian and Spanish prime ministers met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
He suggested that the international community needs to take the reins for lasting peace in Israel and Palestine.
“We need international recognition of the Palestinian State, and the UN needs to intervene. Going in this direction would reflect the seriousness of the international community to achieve peace in our region,” he said, explaining his idea for a demilitarised Palestinian state with the borders of 1967, potentially with the presence of international forces.