Spain, Ireland and Norway have recognized Palestinian statehood. Where does Europe stand on the issue?

Spain, Ireland and Norway formally recognized Palestinian statehood on Tuesday, cementing a joint move that further isolates Israel over its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said his country made the decision, which was strongly condemned by Israel, “to keep the miracle of peace alive.”

The nations had announced they would take this step last week, but on Tuesday their respective governments simultaneously approved the declaration, meaning it has now officially come into effect.

The move also highlights just how split Europe is on whether to recognize Palestinian statehood.

A majority of countries around the world do so, and reaffirmed that stance this month in a United Nations resolution in support of Palestinian membership that passed with the support of 143 nations.

Among them were many European states. But it is difficult to be truly definitive about how many countries view the issue; some former Eastern bloc countries, for example, recognized Palestinian statehood decades ago while under Soviet rule, but have since distanced themselves from that stance as independent countries.

Spain, Ireland and Norway

The move by these three countries to recognize Palestinian statehood in tandem sent an impactful message to Israel, and other Western states.

Harris said in a statement on Tuesday that Ireland “had wanted to recognise Palestine at the end of a peace process,” but ultimately “made this move alongside Spain and Norway to keep the miracle of peace alive” – underlining how the joint declaration gave each nation some level of cover, and may have accelerated the process.

“I again call on Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to listen to the world and stop the humanitarian catastrophe we are seeing in Gaza,” Harris said.

“It is regrettable that the Israeli government shows no signs of engaging constructively,” the Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide added as his country formalized the move on Tuesday. “The international community must increase its political and economic support for Palestine and continue the work for a two-state solution.”

In Madrid, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a nationally televised address that Spain would join “more than 140 countries that already recognize Palestine” and that it “is the only way to realize the solution that we all recognize as the only possible one to achieve a future of peace: that of a Palestinian state that coexists alongside the state of Israel in peace and security.”

But all three countries have received a furious response from Israel since announcing their decision last week.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz ordered the immediate recall of its ambassadors to the trio, and said in a statement: “I am sending a clear message today – Israel will not hold back against those who undermine its sovereignty and endanger its security.”

“After the terrorist organization Hamas carried out the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, after it committed the most horrific sex crimes the world has seen, these countries chose to give a reward to Hamas and Iran and recognize a Palestinian state,” Katz added.

Western Europe

In 2014, Sweden became the first major Western European nation to recognize Palestinian statehood.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said the decision was made because it “met the criteria of international law.”

“In the light of the international law analysis, we see no reason to delay this decision,” she said. “There is a territory of people and a government. Not to recognize Palestine because of the occupation would be against the principle of international law about no fruits of aggression.”

But that move did not lead to a groundswell of Western European support for the declaration.

Instead, some countries have inched towards supporting Palestinian statehood as part of their wider advocacy for a two-state solution, but have not yet taken the step of formal recognition.

Notably, France, Belgium, Poland and Greece voted in favor of the May 10 UN General Assembly resolution that called for Palestinian membership of the UN earlier this month.

Denmark was also among the countries that voted “Yes.” But on Tuesday, as its neighbor Norway formalized its recognition, Denmark’s parliament voted down a proposal to do so, Reuters reported.

Other countries – including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands – abstained from the UN vote, which was significant but ultimately symbolic given the United States’ veto. In total, 143 votes were passed in favor of the UN resolution, 25 nations abstained and nine voted against.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Friday that the time for a German recognition had not yet come, as there is “no clarity on the territory of the state.”

For now, it’s about achieving a long-term ceasefire,” Scholz said. “The path of symbolic recognition of statehood is not the way forward.”

Eastern Europe

Officially, a number of countries that previously fell under the Soviet sphere of influence in eastern Europe recognize Palestinian statehood.

Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria all take that stance, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

But in eastern Europe, that recognition is often complicated, given that the order to formalize ties was given under a Soviet regime that sought to disrupt American global partnerships, such as that with Israel.

Some former Soviet-bloc countries, such as Poland, have maintained close ties with Palestinian authorities, and have visited or hosted leaders from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

Others have since distanced themselves from their historical declaration of support for Palestinian statehood, such as the Czech Republic, which was one of just nine countries to vote against the UNGA resolution earlier this month. The other nations were Hungary, Argentina, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Israel and the United States.

Slovenia’s government will consider a proposal this week to recognize an independent Palestinian state, according to Prime Minister Robert Golob.

Golob said in a statement that “after a series of consultations over the last few days,” a government meeting on Thursday will consider forwarding “the recognition of Palestine” to the country’s legislature for approval.

CNN’s Inke Kappeler, Louis Mian, Sophie Jeong, Zahid Mahmood, Al Goodman, Niamh Kennedy and Sana Noor Haq contributed reporting

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