Mohammad Mustafa, Prime Minister of Palestine, Prime Minister of Palestine

Mohammed Mustafa (Photo: Wikipedia)

Norway handed diplomatic documents to the Palestinian prime minister on Sunday, the latest step toward recognising a Palestinian state in a largely symbolic move that has angered Israel.

Ireland and Spain have joined Norway in making a firm pledge to recognise a Palestinian state, a historic move that furthers Israel’s isolation in its brutal seven-month war against Hamas in Gaza.

The papers were handed to the prime minister by Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, where Mohammad Mustafa is meeting with foreign ministers of EU countries and high-level EU officials on Monday to try to drum up support for the Palestinians. Norway itself is not part of the EU.

The diplomatic move by the three countries is a welcome support for Palestinian officials, who have for decades sought statehood in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and still controls.

Formal recognition will be given on Tuesday by Norway, Spain and Ireland, which have friendly relations with both Israel and Palestine and have long advocated for a Palestinian state.

More than two-thirds of the UN’s 140 countries recognise the Palestinian state, but most of the 27 EU countries still do not recognise it. Several countries have said they will recognise it when the conditions are right.

Other countries, including the European Union, the United States and Britain, support the idea of ​​an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, but say it should come through a negotiated solution.

Belgium, which holds the EU presidency, has said Israeli hostages held by Hamas must first be freed and the fighting in Gaza must end. Some other governments support a new initiative toward a two-state solution, 15 years after talks between Israel and the Palestinians failed.

The papers were handed in on Sunday just two days after the UN’s top court ordered Israel to immediately halt its military offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, the latest move heaping further pressure on the isolated country.

A few days earlier, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas officials.

The war in Gaza began when Hamas-led militants launched a cross-border attack, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage. According to Gaza’s health ministry, the Israeli offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians and has led to a humanitarian crisis and famine-like conditions.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

first published: 26 May 2024 | 7:16 PM First


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