Norway, Ireland, Spain recognize Palestinian state; Israel recalls envoys

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said Wednesday that his government will officially recognize Palestine as a state as of May 28. The move coincided with parallel announcements made in Dublin and Madrid. Photo by Erik Flaaris Johansen/EPA-EFE/HANDOUT
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May 22 (UPI) -- Norway, Ireland and Spain said Wednesday they would formally recognize Palestine as a state as of Tuesday in an effort to inject renewed impetus into a hoped-for two-state solution to decades of conflict between Israel and Palestinians in the region.

Amid a war that has killed and injured thousands it was critical to keep alive the only alternative political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike of two states, living side by side, in peace and security, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a news release.

He said Norway proposed the boundary between the two states should be based on pre-1967 war borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states -- but did not wish to prejudice any final agreement arrived at by the two sides, including the use of land swaps.

"Both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to live in peace in their respective states. There will be no peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution. There can be no two-state solution without a Palestinian state. In other words, a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for achieving peace in the Middle East," Store said.

He added that Norway decided to abandon its failed three-decade-long policy of granting recognition only after a peace deal was reached saying it could wait no longer for the conflict to be resolved.

"In the absence of a peace process and a political solution to the conflict, developments have gone in the wrong direction. Neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli people can live their lives in security. That is why we need to think differently and act accordingly.

"Recognition of Palestine is a means of supporting the moderate forces which have been losing ground in this protracted and brutal conflict," said Store, adding that it also sent a strong message to other countries that could ultimately give process toward a two-state solution renewed momentum.

In a video posted on X, Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said recognizing Palestine was a statement of Ireland's "unambiguous support for the equal right to security, dignity, and self-determination for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples."

Addressing parliament Wednesday, Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, the decision of his government echoed the will of the Spanish people.

"Time has come to move from words into action. Peace, justice and coherence are the basis of our historic decision," he said in an address posted on X.

The move by the European countries brings to 146 the number of countries that officially recognize Palestine.

Israel reacted by pulling its ambassadors from Norway and Ireland and threatened to do the same with its envoy to Madrid, saying recognizing Palestine sent the message that "terrorism pays."

"I have instructed the immediate recall of Israel's ambassadors to Ireland and Norway for consultations in light of these countries' decisions to recognize a Palestinian state," Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a post on X.

"After the Hamas terror organization carried out the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, after committing heinous sexual crimes witnessed by the world, these countries chose to reward Hamas and Iran by recognizing a Palestinian state."

Calling the move "distorted", Katz said it was an injustice to the memory of the victims of the Oct. 7 attack, damaged efforts to free 128 hostages held in Gaza and would bolster Hamas while threatening Israel's security.

The Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank welcomed the decision by Norway, Ireland and Spain calling it a significant step that would strengthen international efforts to end Israel's "illegal occupation" and achieve peace and stability in the region.

"Spain, Norway and Ireland have once again demonstrated their unwavering commitment to the two-state solution and to delivering long overdue justice to the Palestinian people," its foreign ministry said in a statement on X.

The ministry of the Fatah-controlled government of the West Bank that also claims jurisdiction over Gaza -- but which has been governed by Hamas since 2007 -- called on all countries that have not yet recognized Palestine to follow suit.