Norway, Ireland and Spain announced Wednesday they will formally recognize a Palestinian state, dealing the latest diplomatic blow to Israel.

“In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said.

“Two states, living side by side, in peace and security.”

Speaking at a news conference in Dublin shortly after, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said he hoped the decision to recognize a Palestinian state would “offer hope and encouragement to the people of Palestine at one of their darkest hours.”

Israel ordered its ambassadors from Ireland and Norway to immediately return and said it would do the same for Spain.

“Ireland and Norway intend to send a message today to the Palestinians and the whole world: terrorism pays,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said.

He said that the recognition could impede efforts to return Israel’s hostages being held in Gaza and makes a cease-fire less likely by “rewarding the jihadists of Hamas and Iran.”

It comes as the Israeli military continues to expand operations in both southern and northern Gaza, the Palestinian enclave where more than 35,000 people have been killed in seven months of war, according to local health officials.

Norway to formally recognize Palestinian statehood as other European nations to follow suit
Palestinian civilians in the town of al-Zawaida in central Gaza on May 22, 2024. Bashar Taleb / AFP – Getty Images

It also comes after the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor announced he would be seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, along with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and others for alleged war crimes in the Israel-Hamas war.

Ireland had in recent weeks signaled plans to recognize Palestinian statehood by the end of the month, with Israel strongly opposing the bid, as well as any fresh push for a two-state solution following the Oct. 7 attacks.

In a post on X aimed at Ireland on Tuesday, Israel’s foreign ministry warned the country that “recognizing a Palestinian state will lead to more terrorism, instability in the region and jeopardize any prospects for peace.”

“Don’t be a pawn in the hands of Hamas,” it said.

Prior to Wednesday, more than 140 of the 193 member states of the United Nations recognized Palestinian statehood, with no Group of Seven nations among them.

President Joe Biden has said his administration is working to “finally get a two-state solution,” which he has said is “the only solution.” But the U.S. does not formally recognize a Palestinian state.

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