For the second time during the war on Gaza, Tel Aviv summoned the Spanish ambassador after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s statements on Thursday regarding Gaza. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also announced the summoning of his country’s ambassador to Madrid for consultations.
How did Sanchez anger Israel?
On Thursday, Sanchez considered that “it is in the interest of the European Union to recognize the Palestinian state,” adding:
- The Israeli-Palestinian conflict must end to stabilize the region.
- We must find a political solution to end this crisis, and this solution includes, in my opinion, recognition of the Palestinian state.
- This recognition is in Europe’s interest for a moral reason, because what we see in Gaza is unacceptable.
Sanchez, who assumed a new four-year term, pledged in his inauguration speech to work in Europe and Spain to recognize the Palestinian state, and he did not rule out the possibility of his country recognizing the Palestinian state individually.
Stations of the most prominent tensions between Spain and Israel
Relations between Spain and Israel have been tense since World War II, and have gone through several stages of escalation, most notably:
- Israel opposed Spain’s accession to the United Nations at the end of World War II because of Madrid’s relationship with Nazi Germany.
- Spain did not establish official relations with Israel until 1986.
- In 2006, following the outbreak of war between Israel and Hezbollah, then-Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez appeared wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh and criticized the Israeli government’s excessive use of force against the Lebanese.
- In 2014, the Spanish Parliament unanimously adopted a non-binding resolution calling for recognition of a Palestinian state.
- Following the outbreak of war last October, Spain opposed the European Union’s suspension of aid to the Palestinians.
- During the current war, Spain, which holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, put forward a proposal to hold a peace conference within 6 months.
- Last October 26, Spanish Minister of Social Rights Ione Pellara called on European countries to sever diplomatic relations with Israel and punish it for killing civilians.
- Last November 15, Sanchez pledged that his government would work to recognize a Palestinian state, and called for an end to the “blind killing of Palestinians” in Gaza.
- Last November 25, the Barcelona municipality announced a complete severance of Israeli relations until the ceasefire.
- The Spanish government decided to increase the aid it grants to the Palestinians to another 100 million euros.
- Spanish Equality Minister Irene Monteiro accused the United States of “complicity” with “war crimes” committed by Israel in Gaza.
- On November 24, during his visit to the Rafah crossing, the Spanish Prime Minister said that “the destruction of Gaza is unacceptable” and “violence will only lead to more violence.”
- On December 1, the Spanish Prime Minister said he doubted that Israel respected international law given the number of casualties in Gaza.
Why does Spain take a different position than Europe?
Dr. Salah Qirata, professor of international relations at the University of Madrid, told Sky News Arabia that the Spanish position has been considered fair and neutral since the beginning of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, adding that Spain:
- It morally and humanely sided with Gaza after Israel committed heinous massacres against the Palestinians since last October 7.
- From the first hours of the war, Spain opposed the European Union’s position seeking to freeze humanitarian aid to Gaza.
- It is an ethical position and consistent with the rules of international law.
- Madrid is not rushing to condemn the Israeli attack, but rather its position is measured and rational compared to the extent of the destruction inflicted on Gaza and the killing of defenseless civilians.
- Since the outbreak of the war, it has called for a more objective and logical international peace conference to end the conflict, and in the 1990s it hosted a peace conference.
- Spain called on the European Union to recognize the Palestinian state, but the Union did not agree, and it will do so unilaterally.
- The Spanish position is in line with the positions of countries such as Portugal and Belgium, and is also in line with the pulse of the European street, which has been swept by demonstrations demanding an end to the war on Gaza.
A professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, Isaias Parrenada, said that Sanchez has sought for years to strengthen Spain’s international standing, and he hopes that his position will have a “ripple effect” on the rest of the European Union countries, at a time when Western countries that support Israel are being criticized in the Arab world, adding in statements Journalist, that:
- Sanchez appointed a minister born to a Palestinian father to his new government.
- He has an opportunity and a lot of pressure from his left wing and public opinion to move towards recognition of the Palestinian state.
- Spain sought refuge in Arab countries during Franco’s dictatorship (1939-1975) with the aim of circumventing its isolation in the West.
- Madrid is close to the Arab world and shows sympathy towards its issues, especially the Palestinian issue.
- Spain has long called for a political solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians based on the two-state solution.
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