World Insights: U.S.-Europe divisions deepen as Norway, Ireland, Spain recognize Palestinian statehood-Xinhua

World Insights: U.S.-Europe divisions deepen as Norway, Ireland, Spain recognize Palestinian statehood

Source: Xinhua| 2024-05-23 17:02:45|Editor:

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Norway, Ireland and Spain on Wednesday decided to recognize Palestine as a state, marking a significant shift in European policy more than seven months into the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan dismissed the three nations' move as "unilateral recognition" at a press briefing on Wednesday, asserting that President Joe Biden believes the two-state solution should be achieved "through direct negotiations through the parties."

As Israel and Hamas failed to reach a ceasefire agreement during talks in Cairo earlier this month mediated by Egypt, Qatar, and the United States, the U.S. opposition to the recognition has highlighted expanding transatlantic divisions.


In Wednesday's coordinated announcements, Norway was the first to act. Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store declared at a press conference that "a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for achieving peace in the Middle East."

Ireland quickly followed. In Dublin, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said the decision should not have to wait "indefinitely" when it is "the right thing to do." He expressed confidence that more countries would take this important step in the coming weeks.

Spain joined in soon after. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that Spain recognizes Palestine "for peace, for justice, and for consistency," urging both parties to engage in dialogue to achieve a two-state solution.

In the past week, several other European countries, including Malta and Slovenia, have also signaled their intent to follow suit. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Wednesday that Belgium was waiting for the "right moment."

Shada Islam, a Brussels-based commentator on EU affairs, suggested that the recognition by Norway, Ireland, and Spain is "almost certainly" going to be followed by Belgium, Malta, and Slovenia in the coming weeks.

Some of the United States' traditional allies are considering recognition. French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said that such recognition is not taboo, though he stressed the timing, saying conditions had not yet been met. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made a similar statement.

Wednesday's recognition drew anger from Israel, which announced it is recalling its envoys to the three countries.


While the recognition has received mixed reactions in Europe, the continent's stance on Israel has gradually shifted, especially as more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7 last year. This shift has exposed rising rifts between the United States and Europe.

Store also revealed that Norway supports granting Palestine full membership status in the United Nations. The United States, however, vetoed a draft resolution in April recommending that the General Assembly admit Palestine to the United Nations, drawing widespread disappointment.

Britain and Switzerland abstained from the vote, while the remaining members of the UN Security Council voted in favor.

Days earlier, the United States showed support for Israel by denouncing an International Criminal Court (ICC) application to arrest two Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and three Hamas leaders.

Biden called the application "outrageous," saying in a statement that "we will always stand with Israel against threats to its security." In April, Biden also piled up U.S. aid to Israel by signing a security assistance bill that included approximately 14.1 billion U.S. dollars in funding to support Israel.

The Biden administration is considering potential sanctions against the ICC over the arrest request, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday. The United States and Israel are not members of the ICC.

In contrast, the French Foreign Ministry stated its support for the ICC, saying it supports "the fight against impunity in every situation." Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hadja Lahbib called the ICC request "an important step in the investigation of the situation in Palestine."

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell asserted that "all states that have ratified the ICC statutes are bound to execute the Court's decision."

As UN agencies continued to warn of dire consequences in Gaza, including famine and epidemics, EU leaders in March unanimously called for "an immediate humanitarian pause leading to a sustainable ceasefire" in Gaza.

Despite this, the United States has maintained its truce-for-hostages stance, though its language has become more ambiguous under pressure.

On March 22, the UN Security Council rejected a U.S.-proposed draft resolution on a Gaza ceasefire. Nabil Kahlouche, a strategic studies specialist from the Algiers-based National Institute of Strategic Global Studies, argued that tying a ceasefire to the release of Israeli detainees contradicts the logical sequence of events, and that "releasing detainees should follow the cessation of aggression, not vice versa."

The EU statement also called for "the unconditional release of all hostages," without linking it to a ceasefire.

"I believe it is important that on issues of such moral and geopolitical significance, national EU governments are able to make decisions based on their own values and interests, regardless of what their EU partners say and irrespective of the stance taken by the U.S.," Islam told Xinhua.