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EU-Israel relations take a nosedive as Spain, Ireland set to formally recognize a Palestinian state

BRUSSELS (AP) — Relations between the European Union and Israel collapsed on the eve of diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state by EU members Ireland and Spain, Madrid suggesting sanctions should be considered against Israel for its continued attacks in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Spain that its consulate in Jerusalem would not be allowed to help the Palestinians.

At the same time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell of Spain has thrown his weight behind the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others, including Hamas leaders.

“The court prosecutor was heavily intimidated and accused of anti-Semitism,” Borrell said. “The word anti-Semitic is too heavy. It’s too important.

Angry words abounded Monday, with Katz accusing Spain of “rewarding terrorism” by recognizing a Palestinian state, and saying that “the days of the Inquisition are over.” He referenced the infamous Spanish institution created in the 15th century to maintain Roman Catholic orthodoxy that forced Jews and Muslims to flee, convert to Catholicism or, in some cases, risk death.

“No one will force us to convert our religion or threaten our existence – we will harm those who harm us in return,” Katz said.

Although the EU and its member countries strongly condemned the attack carried out by Hamas on October 7, in which militants burst across the Gaza border and headed towards Israel, killing 1,200 people and By taking some 250 hostages, the bloc also criticized the Israeli action that followed. offensive that killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The latest attacks have focused on Rafah, where Palestinian health workers said Israeli airstrikes had killed at least 35 people Sunday, hit tents of displaced people and left “many” others trapped in burning debris.

The highest court of the UNThe International Court of Justice demanded Friday that Israel immediately end its offensive on Rafah, even though it did not go so far as to order a ceasefire for the Gaza enclave.

“Israel must stop its offensive in Rafah,” said Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares.

Spain, Ireland and non-EU member Norway plan to formalize their recognition of a Palestinian state on Tuesday. Their joint announcement last week sparked an angry response from Israeli authorities, who summoned the two countries’ ambassadors in Tel Aviv to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, where they were filmed being shown videos of the Hamas attack and kidnapping on October 7.

Albares criticized the treatment of ambassadors. “We reject something that is not within the scope of diplomatic courtesy and the customs of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” he said.

“But at the same time, we also agreed that we are not going to fall into any provocation that would take us away from our objective,” he added. “Our goal is to recognize the State of Palestine tomorrow, to deploy all possible efforts to achieve a permanent ceasefire as quickly as possible and also, ultimately, to achieve this definitive peace. »


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