Fri 24 May 2024 9:50 am - Jerusalem Time

The division between America and Europe widened with the recognition of the Palestinian state

Norway, Ireland and Spain decided on Wednesday to recognize Palestine as a state, marking a major shift in European policy after more than seven months of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, in a press conference on Wednesday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan rejected the three countries' move as a "unilateral recognition," stressing that President Joe Biden believes that the two-state solution must be achieved "through direct negotiations between the two parties."

With Israel and Hamas failing to reach a ceasefire agreement during Cairo talks earlier this month brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the United States, the American refusal to recognize a Palestinian state has highlighted growing divisions across the Atlantic.

- A wave of confession 
In a coordinated move on Wednesday, Norway was the first to announce. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Storhe said in a press conference, "A Palestinian state is a prerequisite for achieving peace in the Middle East."

Ireland soon followed. In Dublin, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said the decision should not wait "indefinitely" especially when it was "the right thing to do". He expressed his confidence that more countries would take the same important step in the coming weeks.

Spain joined them shortly after. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain recognizes Palestine “for the sake of peace, justice and coherence,” and urged the parties to engage in dialogue to achieve a two-state solution.

Last week, several other European countries, including Malta and Slovenia, indicated their intention to take the same step. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Wednesday that Belgium was waiting for the "right moment."

Shatha Islam, a commentator on European Union affairs in Brussels, indicated that the recognition of Norway, Ireland and Spain will “almost certainly” be followed by the recognition of Belgium, Malta and Slovenia in the coming weeks.

Some traditional US allies are considering recognizing Palestine as a state as well. French Foreign Minister Stephane Ségourne said such recognition was not taboo, but stressed the timing, saying the conditions had not yet been met. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made a similar statement.

The recognition by Norway, Ireland and Spain on Wednesday angered Israel, which decided to recall its ambassadors to the three countries.

- Growing division

Although the tripartite recognition was met with mixed reactions in Europe, the continent's position on Israel gradually changed, especially with the killing of more than 35,000 Palestinians since last October 7. This shift has revealed the widening of divisions between the United States and Europe.

Stoura also revealed in the press conference that Norway supports granting Palestine full membership status in the United Nations. But the United States vetoed a draft resolution last April recommending that the General Assembly admit Palestine to the United Nations, which sparked widespread disappointment.

Britain and Switzerland abstained from voting, while the remaining members of the UN Security Council voted in favor of the draft resolution.

A few days ago, the United States showed its support for Israel by denouncing the International Criminal Court's request to issue arrest warrants against two Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and three Hamas leaders.

Biden described the request as “outrageous,” saying in a statement, “We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.” In April, Biden also increased US aid to Israel by signing a security assistance bill that included approximately US$14.1 billion in funding to support Israel.

The Biden administration is considering possible sanctions against the International Criminal Court over the request to issue arrest warrants, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday. The United States and Israel are not members of the International Criminal Court.

On the other hand, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its support for the independence of the International Criminal Court, saying that it supports “the fight against impunity in all cases.” Belgian Foreign Minister Hajja Habib described the ICC's request as "an important step to investigate the situation in Palestine."

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stressed that "all countries that have ratified the Statute of the International Criminal Court are obligated to implement the court's decision."

As UN agencies continue to warn of the dire consequences of the conflict in Gaza, such as starvation and epidemics, EU leaders unanimously called in March for “an immediate humanitarian truce leading to a sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza.

Despite this, the United States maintained its position on a truce in exchange for hostages, even as its language became more ambiguous under pressure.

On March 22, the UN Security Council rejected a draft resolution proposed by the United States regarding a ceasefire in Gaza. Nabil Kahlouch, a specialist in strategic studies at the Algeria-based National Institute for Comprehensive Strategic Studies, said that linking the ceasefire to the release of Israeli detainees contradicts the logical sequence of events, saying that “the release of detainees should follow the cessation of aggression and not the other way around.”

The European Union statement also called for "the unconditional release of all hostages," without linking it to a ceasefire.

Shatha Islam told Xinhua: “I think it is important that on issues of moral and geopolitical importance, national EU governments are able to make decisions based on their own values and interests, regardless of what their EU partners say and regardless of what they say.” The position taken by the United States.


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The division between America and Europe widened with the recognition of the Palestinian state