Israel warns 4 European countries against Palestinian statehood recognition

By Thomson Reuters Mar 25, 2024 | 5:18 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel told four European countries on Monday that their plan to work toward recognition of a Palestinian state constituted a “prize for terrorism” that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the conflict between the neighbours.

Spain said on Friday that, in the name of Middle East peace, it had agreed with Ireland, Malta and Slovenia to take first steps toward recognising statehood declared by the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza has long been under the rule of the Islamist group Hamas, which rejects peace with Israel and attacked it on Oct 7, triggering a devastating war that has stoked violence in the West Bank, where Israel has extensive Jewish settlements.

“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,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on X.

“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.”

He did not specify what kind of resolution he had in mind. Israel, whose governing coalition includes pro-settlement far-rightists, has long ruled out Palestinian statehood. That has put it at loggerheads with Western powers which support its goal of defeating Hamas but want a post-war diplomatic blueprint.

(Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by William Maclean)