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Andrew Jose
Journalist, Foreign Policy Analyst

Respond Sternly to Spain, Ireland, and Norway

Palestinian protestor waving Palestinian flag (Hosny Salah/PIXABAY)

Norway, Ireland, and Spain declared unilaterally on May 28 that they considered the Palestinian Territories to be an independent state. Israel must contest the three European countries’ actions through restrictions on Norwegian, Irish, and Spanish diplomats.

Left unchallenged, the trio’s hostile moves against Israel will incentivize other countries to take similar actions aimed at undermining Israeli control over Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), thinking that by doing so, they can affect the ground reality. Jerusalem should prove them wrong.

Europe’s turn against the Jewish state is not a mere coincidence but a symptom of three powerful forces reshaping politics in the continent—a tilt towards socialism and progressive politics, growing atheism among Europeans who reject biblical claims of Israeli statehood, and the rise in numbers of Middle Eastern and Muslim migrants with EU citizenships as a potent electoral force. These forces are increasingly embedded in Western Europe’s political landscape and are bound to influence future European decision-making.

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Israel cannot prevent more European states from recognizing the so-called “State of Palestine” in the future. However, it has control over the ground reality, which it should leverage to ensure these recognitions remain aspirational pieces of legal fiction.

For a Spanish, Irish, and Norwegian declaration of Palestinian statehood to be something beyond mere political statements, the three countries must have diplomatic missions that operate within the Palestinian Territories. Furthermore, the countries need their diplomats to be able to enter the territories to maintain diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority.

Using the leverage Jerusalem has on the ground, the Israeli government should refuse to recognize the diplomatic credentials of any Spanish, Irish, or Norwegian diplomat directly accredited to the Palestinian Territories, declaring them persona non grata and subject to removal from Israel. The goal of this policy should be to prevent the establishment and functioning of any Spanish, Norwegian, and Irish embassies in ‘Palestine.’

Furthermore, Israeli authorities should ban diplomats from Spain, Ireland, and Norway accredited to Israel from entering Judea and Samaria, and Gaza to prevent the trio from using their diplomats currently posted to Israel to liaise with the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Jerusalem should lift the ban only when the three states reverse their Palestinian statehood declarations.

Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. When these three countries have openly stated that they consider the eastern half of the city to be the capital of a non-existent Palestinian state, there is no reason for Israeli authorities to permit the countries’ missions in Jerusalem to service Palestinians. To allow them to serve Palestinians in Jerusalem is to tacitly recognize the three countries’ move to declare half of the city as Palestinian.

Bans on Spain servicing Palestinians through its missions in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have already been ordered by Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel Katz, in response to Spain’s Socialist Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz using a pro-Palestinian slogan that suggested the eradication of Israel “from the river to the sea” in an official statement. Katz should expand the prohibitions to Ireland and Norway as well.

Imposing these restrictions sends a clear message that Israel will not tolerate one-sided diplomatic actions that support Palestinian statehood claims without addressing Israel’s security and political concerns.

Such measures align with the views of many Israeli citizens who see the recognition of Palestinian statehood without comprehensive peace agreements as undermining Israel’s legitimacy and security.

By taking a firm stand, Israel sets a precedent for other countries considering similar declarations that it will not allow their recognition to materialize beyond paper. Furthermore, these measures will assert Israel’s position that Jerusalem is its undivided capital.

When counterinsurgents like Israel face collaborationist local authorities like the Palestinian Authority, a classic problem that emerges is that the local entity exploits its privileged position as an interlocutor between the insurgency’s human terrain—the Palestinian people— and the counterinsurgent to gain unilateral independence. 

Israel should permit Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich to impose certain restrictions on Palestinian banks and Palestinian Authority funds to express displeasure at the Palestinian Authority’s pursuit of unilateral independence. Furthermore, Jerusalem should expand settlements in Judea and Samaria to assert its sovereignty.

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Spain, Ireland, and Norway are likely to pursue European Union sanctions against Israel should Jerusalem take these measures or simply, refuse to move towards a two-state solution. Israel should prepare for that scenario by leveraging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relationship with Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary and Israel’s ties with other European states that have Euroskeptic heads of state to persuade them to block any sanctions package the EU comes up with against Israel—EU sanctions require unanimity among EU Council members. 

Only Israel can assert its sovereignty—no one will do it for it. Jerusalem must make it clear to Dublin, Oslo, and Madrid that it will not let Europe pressure it into sacrificing its critical security interests and sovereignty for any idealist plans that European leaders have for settling the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

About the Author
Andrew Jose is a Washington DC-based news reporter and security policy analyst. His work has featured in the Times of Israel, National Interest, and The Western Journal. Follow Andrew on X (Twitter): @realAndrewJose.
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