At least 5 EU countries to recognize Palestinian state by end of May

At least 5 EU countries to recognize Palestinian state by end of May

At least five European Union countries will unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state by the end of May, the E.U.’s top diplomat revealed on Monday.

Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia and Malta are expected to make the move, Josep Borrell said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum special meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.

Four of the five countries—Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and Malta—announced in March their intentions to jointly work towards recognizing a Palestinian state. Earlier in April, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that he expects Madrid to recognize a Palestinian state by July and that there would soon be a “critical mass” in Brussels for several other member states to adopt this position.

“These days, every statement about the possibility that European countries will recognize a Palestinian state is a prize for Hamas terrorists, who carried out the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust,” Israeli Foreign Minister Spokesperson Oren Marmorstein tweeted on Monday.

“Only direct negotiations between the parties will lead to peace,” he continued.

“The world including Europe should currently focus solely on the immediate release of the 133 women and men taken hostage and on the destruction of the Hamas terror organization. Anyone promoting a different agenda at this time is playing into the hands of Hamas and is hindering efforts to reach a deal on releasing the hostages and humanitarian relief,” he said.

The official policy position of the United States is that Palestinian statehood can only be achieved through direct bilateral negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Polling shows that a majority of the Israeli public remains opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

However, the European Union appears to determined to push unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, which 140 out of 193 United Nations member states have recognized since 1988.

“If we want to move this two-state solution forward it will not happen from the parties. I do not believe that Israel is ready to negotiate at this point, and I do not think that the U.S. is ready to take the necessary leadership,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said at the end of a meeting between European and Arab officials on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Monday, of which Norway was one of the organizers.

“So I think an Arab-European leadership is the best we can hope for.”

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