Spanish PM to lobby EU partners for Palestinian state recognition

By Thomson Reuters Apr 9, 2024 | 7:59 AM

MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will meet several of his European Union counterparts over the next week to try to garner support for the recognition of a Palestinian state, the government said on Tuesday.

Sanchez’s agenda includes meetings with the prime ministers of Norway, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia and Belgium focusing on the EU’s position regarding the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, government spokesperson Pilar Alegria told reporters.

“We want to stop the humanitarian disaster in Gaza and help kickstart a political peace process leading to the realisation of the two-state solution as early as possible,” Alegria said.

Sanchez has previously said he expects Madrid to extend recognition to the Palestinians by July and that he believes there would soon be a “critical mass” within the EU to push several members to adopt the same position.

Spain, Ireland, Malta and Slovenia announced last month they would jointly work toward recognition of a Palestinian state.

Israel told the four EU countries their initiative would amount to a “prize for terrorism” that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the generations-old conflict.

Israeli forces launched a devastating air and ground offensive in Gaza in October after militants of the Palestinian enclave’s ruling Islamist group Hamas went on a killing and kidnapping spree inside Israel.

The EU has had much less sway on the conflict than the United States, Israel’s closest ally, which has said a peace deal and Palestinian statehood in territory Israel occupied in a 1967 war can be reached only through direct negotiations, which have been stalled by entrenched disputes for a decade.

Since 1988, 139 out of 193 United Nations member states have recognised Palestinian statehood.

Sanchez is set to begin his diplomatic campaign with a trip to Oslo and Dublin on April 12, where he will meet with Norway’s Jonas Gahr Stoere and Ireland’s new premier Simon Harris.

(Reporting by David Latona and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Heinrich)