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Recognizing Palestinian state is a ‘just cause’ – Spanish PM

Pedro Sanchez has vowed to seek legislative approval for the diplomatic measure rather than awaiting an EU decision

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has joined the chorus of European leaders expressing support for Palestinian statehood, saying he will seek legislative approval to officially recognize the sovereignty of Israel’s neighbor.

“I will propose granting Spain’s recognition to the Palestinian state,” Sanchez said on Saturday at a conference in Bilbao, Spain. “I do this out of moral conviction, for a just cause, and because it is the only way that the two states – Israel and Palestine – can live together in peace.”

Sanchez has been one of Europe’s most vocal critics of the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, accusing West Jerusalem of “indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians” in the Palestinian enclave since the war with Hamas began in October. He has previously hinted that Spain could push forward with unilaterally recognizing Palestine as a sovereign nation, even if the EU opposes doing so as a bloc.

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The Spanish prime minister likened his support for Palestinian statehood to Madrid’s backing of Ukraine in the conflict with Russia. He insisted that Spain demanded “respect for international law from Russia, and from Israel, for the violence to end, the recognition of two states, and for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.”

Sanchez’s comments come after French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that it would not be “taboo” for France to recognize Palestinian statehood.” British Foreign Minister David Cameron suggested in January that the UK would consider recognizing a Palestinian state to help ensure lasting peace after Israel and Hamas reach a ceasefire agreement.

More than 130 nations around the world recognize a Palestinian state, encompassing the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, only nine of the EU’s 27 members have granted diplomatic recognition to Palestine, and all but one – Sweden – did so before becoming part of the bloc.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to achieve “total victory,” including the elimination of Hamas, and has argued that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state would be a “reward to terrorism.” The war erupted when Hamas militants launched surprise raids on southern Israeli villages, killing over 1,100 people and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza. More than 31,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the Israeli response began on October 7, according to local health authorities.

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