Spain’s Sanchez says ‘disproportionate’ Israeli Gaza attacks a world threat

Prime minister pushes for recognition of a Palestinian state, says such a ‘just’ move would be in European Union’s interest.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addresses Spain's parliament in the Congress of Deputies in Madrid on April 10, 2024 [Thomas Coex/AFP]

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called Israel’s “disproportionate response” in its war on Gaza a regional and global threat and says the recognition of a Palestinian state is in Europe’s “geopolitical interests”.

“The international community cannot help the Palestinian state if it does not recognise its existence,” he told members of parliament on Wednesday, adding that such a move was “just” and “what’s demanded by the social majority”.

Sanchez has long pushed for the European Union to recognise Palestine, long resisted by the Israeli government and its main allies.

Late last month, he signed a joint statement with his Irish, Maltese and Slovenian counterparts announcing they were ready “to recognise Palestine” if that could help bring about a resolution to more than six months of war in Gaza, during which Israeli attacks have killed at least 33,360 people, according to Palestinian health officials.

Sanchez is due to meet several other leaders, including those of Norway and Portugal, in the coming days to discuss the issue, Spanish government spokeswoman Pilar Alegria said on Tuesday.

The prime minister had already raised the subject of statehood during a visit last week to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar when he indicated Spain could recognise Palestine as a nation by the end of June.

“The international community, as a whole, we must recognise the full membership of Palestine in the UN system,” Sanchez told Al Jazeera in an interview during the visit to Qatar.

“And, of course, bilaterally in the case of Spain, we are ready to support and recognise the State of Palestine because this momentum has to be different to the others that we witnessed over the past seven decades.”

Last week, the Palestinian Authority (PA) formally asked for renewed consideration by the United Nations Security Council of its 2011 application to become a full member of the world body.

The PA is currently a non-member observer state at the UN, the same status as the Vatican. The council is expected to make a decision this month. The United States, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council and a staunch ally of Israel, said establishing an independent Palestinian state should happen through direct negotiations between the parties and not at the UN.

Sanchez has also been a vocal advocate for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged territory and the release of the captives seized by Hamas and other armed groups during their October 7 attacks inside Israel, which killed 1,139 people, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on Israeli statistics.

Speaking on Wednesday, Sanchez said Israel’s “absolutely disproportionate response” to the Hamas-led assault had “overturned decades of humanitarian law and threatened to destabilise the Middle East and, as a consequence, the whole world”.

Separately, Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said on Tuesday that the country will move to recognise a Palestinian state in the coming weeks.

Delaying recognition “is not credible or tenable any longer”, he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies