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EU and Israel relations plummet as Spain, Ireland prepare to recognize a Palestinian state

BRUSSELS — Relations between the European Union and Israel took a nosedive Monday, the eve of the diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state by EU members Ireland and Spain, with Madrid insisting that sanctions should be considered against Israel for its continued deadly attacks in southern Gaza’s city of Rafah.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Spain that its consulate in Jerusalem will not be allowed to help Palestinians.

At the same time, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell threw his weight to support the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others, including leaders of the Hamas terrorist group.

Spain, Ireland and Norway plan to make official their recognition of a Palestinian state on Tuesday.

Angry words abounded, with Katz accusing Spain of “rewarding terror” by recognizing a Palestinian state, and saying that “the days of the Inquisition are over.” He referred to the infamous Spanish institution started in the 15th century to maintain Roman Catholic orthodoxy that forced Jews and Muslims to flee, convert to Catholicism or, in some instances, face death.

“No one will force us to convert our religion or threaten our existence. Those who harm us, we will harm in return,” Katz sais.

Also on Monday, Slovenia’s Prime Minister Robert Golob said his government will decide on the recognition of a Palestinian state on Thursday and forward its decision to parliament for final approval. Slovenia launched the recognition procedure earlier this month, and Golob has been under pressure to speed up the process since Spain, Norway and Ireland announced they would go ahead with recognition.

Borrell said the actions of the Israeli government, including plans to stop transferring tax revenue earmarked for the Palestinian Authority, could no longer be reconciled with the idea he had about the state of Israel.

“From now on, I will never again say ‘Israel,’ (but) will say ‘Netanyahu government’ because it is this government who is taking these decisions,” Borrell said.

Even though the EU and its member nations have been steadfast in condemning the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack in which terrorists stormed across the Gaza border into Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage, the bloc has been equally critical of Israel’s ensuing offensive that has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

The joint announcement by Spain, Ireland and Norway last week triggered an angry response from Israeli authorities, which summoned the countries’ ambassadors in Tel Aviv to the Foreign Ministry, where they were filmed while being shown videos of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack and abductions.

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