A HUMANE AND STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: HOW SPAIN LED FOUR EU COUNTRIES TOWARD THE RECOGNITION OF A PALESTINIAN STATE

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Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez meets the press on his arrival at
the European Council meeting in Brussels, 21 March 2024

We, the Prime Ministers of Ireland, Malta, Slovenia, and Spain, are agreed that the only way to achieve
lasting peace and stability in the region is through the implementation of a two-state solution,
with Israeli and Palestinian States living side-by-side, in peace and security.
We discussed together our readiness to recognize Palestine.

 

 

A GUIDEPOST Report
Main sources:
La Moncloa, Gobierno de España, and the different institutions of the European Union

An exchange of views with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the geopolitical situation and key global challenges took place at the meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 21-22 March 2024. The European Council comprises the heads of state or government of the 27 EU member states, the European Council President and the President of the European Commission. The European Council meeting celebrated the 30th anniversary of the European Economic Area (EEA) that entered into force on 1 January 1994 and which brings together the EU Member States and the three EEA EFTA States — Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway — into a single market. The EEA extends the benefits of the European Union internal market to the aforementioned three countries.

EU-EEA meeting family photo

The European Council meeting concluded with a forceful call for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palñestinian conflict, the opening of land corridors, the avoidance of offensive on Rafah, the continued support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA’s) work on Gaza Strip and in the region as a whole, and for the promotion of a peace conference that will lead to a two-state solution to the conflict.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain pointed out that the conclusions of the European Council meeting “reflect the position that Spain has been defending since the outbreak of the [Isreal-Palestinian] conflict.”*

Sánchez, in blue suit, visits the UNRWA refugee camp for Palestinians in Jordan, March 2024

In the meeting, the European Council expressed its deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and its terrible impact on the civilian population, particularly the childfren, and the imminent risk of famine caused by the insufficient inflow of aid into Gaza. Accordingly, the European leaders have agreed to dissuade the Israeli government from launching a ground operation in Refah as this would make the already catastrophic humanitarian situation worse.

Against this backdrop, the Spanish prime minister organized a meeting with the prime ministers of Slovenia, Ireland, and Malta. The initiative stole a march on an EU that tends to be cautious in acting on its good intentions, presumably in deference to the Biden administration who is having difficulty in making up its mind on what to do exactly about what the more outspoken sector of world opinion calls the Netanyahu genocide. The Sánchez initiative proclaimed the commitment of the four countries to the recognition of the State of Palestine state. It is believed that such a recognition will  contribute to the success of a much-needed peace process.

The communiqué issued by the four countries on 22 March 2024 meeting, as sourced from the Irish Department of the Taoiseach, states:

“We, the Prime Ministers of Ireland [Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach], Malta [Robert Abela], Slovenia [Robert Golob], and Spain [Pedro Sánchez] met in the margins of the European Council to share views on the situation in Gaza and the Middle East.

“We are agreed on the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages and a rapid, massive and sustained increase of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

We are agreed that the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region is through the implementation of a two-state solution, with Israeli and Palestinian States living side-by-side, in peace and security. [Underscoring supplied.]

“We discussed together our readiness to recognize Palestine and said that we would do so when it can make a positive contribution and the circumstances are right.”

“It’s time” that the recognition of the Palestinian state is undertaken, Sánchez said.

Israel’s reaction was predictable: “Recognition of a Palestinian state following the 7 October massacre send 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.

The broader European Council meeting has addressed not only the pressing need for an end to the conflict between Israel and Palestine but also the Ukraine issue, saying that “the European Union remains committed to supporting Ukraine’s repair, recovery and reconstruction, in coordination with international partners. The European Council welcomes the recent strengthening of the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) in Ukraine which will allow the scaling up of support for Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in Ukraine’s liberated and adjacent territories, and for reforms in the context of its EU accession process. The European Council calls for further support for psychological and psychosocial rehabilitation and increased demining assistance.”

From the European Parliament, it has been noted that President Zelenskyy took part in the European Council meeting by video conference, briefing EU leaders on Ukraine’s most urgent military needs, as well as addressing Ukraine’s accession to the EU, trade liberalization, and the use of frozen Russian assets.

From the left, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy; and Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security. At the European Council meeting in Mach 2024, the EU reiterated its steadfast support for Ukraine.

Only too aware that the Russian war on Ukraine is now in its third year, “the European Council reiterated the EU’s steadfast support, stressing that Russia was to be held accountable for the war and all related crimes.”

Pedro Sánchez points out emphatically that “Putin has not won the war, as he aimed to do. But he hasn’t lost it either.” Consequently, the Spanish prime minister stressed the need to immediately increase support to Ukraine to prevent setbacks on the Ukrainian front. He says: “We must avoid this [setback] at all costs. Because what is at stake is the credibility, security and well-being of all Europeans.”

The European Council calls for the strengthening of European security and defense, the enlargement of EU membership and reform of the EU, the management of migration, as well as a timely straightening out of bureaucratic red tape with a view to helping EUfarmers become more competitive, this last prompted by the protests of outraged Spanish and French farmers which threaten to spread to other EU member-countries.

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*Related posts
“The President of Spain Wants a Duly Recognized Palestinian State and Won’t Wait a Minute More”
“The European Union is with Israel but will not Desert the Palestinian People”

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Images
Featured image/Pool Moncloa-Fernando Calvo
EU-EEA family photo/©European Union
Sánchez at UNRWA Palestinian refugee camp/Pool Moncloa-Norja Puig de la Bellacasa

Flag-maps of Ireland/velesss, CC BY3.0; Malta/Xander, PD; Slovenia/Aktron, PD; Spain/Jynus, PD. All from Wikimedia Commons.
Von der Leyen, Zelenskyy, Borrell ©European Union