A diplomatic crisis is underway between Spain and Israel

On Thursday, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu decided to recall its ambassador to Spain from the country, thus amplifying a diplomatic crisis that had begun A week ago on the occasion of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s visit to the Middle East, and worsened on Thursday, when Sánchez reiterated his condemnation of the intense Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip.

The recall of ambassadors is one of the most serious forms of protest in the diplomatic field: it presupposes that the country recalling its ambassador remains without formal representation and that the functions normally exercised by the ambassador are suspended. Israel decided on this measure at the end of a week where relations were very tense.

A week ago, Sánchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi in Cairo. The series of official meetings between Sánchez and De Croo began on Friday with the screening by Israeli authorities of a twenty-minute video on the atrocities committed by Hamas militiamen during the October 7 attacks. They then went to Kibbutz Be’eri, where more than 100 Israeli civilians were killed.

Pedro Sánchez and Alexander De Croo with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Alaa Badarneh/Pool via AP)

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Sánchez called the meeting with Netanyahu “very difficult” and said in official statements: “I reiterate Israel’s right to defend itself but within the parameters and limits defined by international law, which has not been done. The indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, including thousands of children, is completely unacceptable. Violence will only lead to more violence. » Sánchez had also reiterated, both in the private meeting and in public statements, that “terrorism cannot be eradicated by force alone”, citing the example of what happened in Spain with the Basque terrorists of ETA.

A few hours later, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen summoned the Spanish and Belgian ambassadors (another diplomatic measure, less radical than the recall of his own ambassadors) with an official note: “We condemn the false statements of the heads of government of Spain and Belgium which support terrorism.” Prime Minister Netanyahu also declared that he “strongly condemns” these statements which do not attribute to Hamas “full responsibility for the crimes against humanity of which it is guilty”. The Spanish government has rejected these accusations, while the opposition and particularly the Popular Party have accused Sánchez of being “reckless in foreign policy”.

During the same visit, Sánchez also invited the international community and “the European Union in particular” to make a decision on the official recognition of the Palestinian state. Sánchez had called for this to be done collectively, specifying that otherwise Spain could make its decisions autonomously. So far, the European countries that have recognized the Palestinian state are Sweden, Iceland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Slovakia, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania.

The crisis appears resolved after a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries at an OECD meeting in Skopje, organization that brings together 35 of the most developed countries in the worldwhich took place on Thursday.

But a few hours later, Sánchez gave an interview to Spanish television. AND Pin which he said that he has “many doubts about Israel’s respect for the laws of international law” in the ongoing war against Hamas. He thus defended the position expressed during the visit to the Middle East. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen called Sánchez’s remarks “scandalous and baseless” and announced the recall of Ambassador Rodica Radian-Gordon for consultations.

The recall of ambassadors is generally a temporary measure, but has an indefinite duration: it serves to put pressure on a government to change its official position and precedes in the most serious cases the interruption of diplomatic relations.In 2019 for example, France recalled its ambassador to Rome at the end of a long series of controversies with the first government of Giuseppe Conte (supported by the League and the Five Star Movement) and in particular after the meeting with the vice-president of the time. president of I recommend Luigi Di Maio with the most extremist faction of the “yellow vest” movement, protagonist during these months of a series of demonstrations against the government, some of which have been very violent. Italy, however, recalled the ambassador to Egypt in 2016 following the murder of researcher Giulio Regeni.

It is not yet clear what could reverse the crisis. Spain’s positions are among the least consistent in Europe with those of Netanyahu’s government. The new Sánchez government was presented on Tuesday November 21 after reaching an agreement between the Socialist Party, Sumar (a coalition of small radical left parties) and several regional parties, including the Catalan separatists. The positions of many members of the Sánchez government are particularly critical of Israel, which already a month ago accused part of the current majority of being “aligned with Hamas positions” .

Source: ilpost


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