Norway, Spain and Ireland to recognise Palestinian state, Belgium postpones decision

Norway, Ireland and Spain announced on Wednesday that they would recognise an independent Palestinian state on 28 May, saying they hoped other Western countries would follow suit. In Belgium, ministers met to consider the situation in Gaza but no agreement on a possible recognition was reached.

"We support a two-state solution," said Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib (MR) after the meeting. "We want to continue working now and seize this momentum, especially now that we are EU president, to mediate to reach a solution. Three member states have taken an important step, others have more questions."

The move by Ireland, Spain and Norway triggered anger in Israel. In protest against the decision, the country has begun recalling its ambassadors. Israel Katz, Israel’s Foreign minister, said the countries were rewarding Hamas and Iran.

Liberal opposition

Belgium's ministers met to discuss the situation in Gaza. Several governing parties socialists Vooruit, greens Groen and Christian democrats CD&V - argue for a quick recognition, but the liberal parties are hesitant.

Prime minister Alexander De Croo, of liberals Open VLD, has repeatedly said that he and his party are in favour of recognition, but that this must be done within the framework of a two-state solution, as stated in the coalition agreement. For that to happen, the military conflict must first become a diplomatic conflict. Francophone sister party MR is also reluctant to rush the recognition of Palestine.

The biggest obstacle, however, is the government’s position. From 27 May, after the dissolution of the federal parliament, the government will become a temporary government, which will complicate decision-making. To then take a sweeping decision such as recognising Palestine, its urgency must first be demonstrated.


A pro-Palestine protest in Brussels © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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