Berliner Tageblatt - European states to move on Palestine recognition as Gaza war rages

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European states to move on Palestine recognition as Gaza war rages
European states to move on Palestine recognition as Gaza war rages / Photo: © AFP

European states to move on Palestine recognition as Gaza war rages

At least three European countries were expected to announce steps towards recognising a Palestinian state on Wednesday, after more than seven months of devastating fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

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Irish media reported that the government was expected to announce its formal recognition of a Palestinian state at a press conference by premier Simon Harris, deputy premier Micheal Martin and minister Eamon Ryan at 0700 GMT.

Norway was expected to make a similar announcement around the same time, according to two Norwegian newspapers.

And in Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was scheduled to address parliament about setting a date for recognising a Palestinian state.

Sanchez said in March that Spain and Ireland, along with Slovenia and Malta, had agreed to take their first steps towards Palestinian recognition, seeing a two-state solution as essential for lasting peace.

Israel's foreign ministry posted a video addressed to Ireland on X on Tuesday warning that "recognising a Palestinian state risks turning you into a pawn in the hands of Iran and Hamas".

And Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli previously accused Sanchez's government of believing "that the Palestinians should be rewarded for the massacre" perpetrated by Hamas and its allies in southern Israel on October 7.

Hamas's October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 124 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,647 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

Fighting has raged around the far southern city of Rafah, the last part of Gaza to face a ground invasion -- but a resumption of fighting has also been reported in the northern Jabalia area, where Hamas forces have regrouped.

An AFP team in Rafah reported air and artillery strikes in and around the city early Wednesday.

- 'Running out of words' -

Israeli troops began their ground assault on parts of Rafah early this month, defying international opposition including from top ally the United States, which voiced fears for the more than one million civilians trapped in the city.

Israel has ordered mass evacuations from the city, where it has vowed to eliminate Hamas's tunnel network and its remaining fighters.

The UN says more than 800,000 people have fled Rafah, with Edem Wosornu of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs saying most of the displaced had gone to camps in Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah where "they lack adequate latrines, water points, drainage and shelter".

The World Health Organization has said northern Gaza's last two functioning hospitals, Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan, were besieged by Israeli forces, with more than 200 patients trapped inside.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, on Tuesday said aid distribution had been suspended in Rafah "due to lack of supplies and insecurity".

- Warrant request -

Starvation was among the allegations made against Israel by International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan when he announced on Monday that he had applied for arrest warrants for leaders on both sides, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an interview with CNN, the prime minister described Khan as a "rogue prosecutor who has put false charges", adding that "he didn't check the facts".

The warrant request also targeted Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas's Qatar-based leader Ismail Haniyeh and its Gaza military and political chiefs, Mohammed Deif and Yahya Sinwar.

US President Joe Biden has backed Netanyahu in condemning the warrant request as "outrageous".

If granted by the ICC judges, the warrants would mean that any of the 124 ICC member states would be required to arrest Netanyahu and the others if they travelled there.

However, the court has no mechanism to enforce its orders.

- Broadcast ban walked back -

Israel on Tuesday shut down an Associated Press live video feed from war-torn Gaza and confiscated its equipment, before reversing the move hours later after the White House intervened.

The US news agency said Israel had accused it of violating a ban on Al Jazeera, which was ordered shut two weeks ago based on a new Israeli law governing foreign broadcasters.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi later announced he had issued an order to cancel the ban and return the equipment.

AP said that while it was "pleased with this development, we remain concerned about the Israeli government's use of the foreign broadcaster law and the ability of independent journalists to operate freely in Israel".

Israeli forces, meanwhile, were also engaged in deadly clashes in the other major Palestinian territory, the occupied West Bank.

At least eight Palestinians were killed in the northern city of Jenin, the Ramallah-based health ministry said, as the army said it was "fighting armed men" in a "counterterrorism operation".

Palestinian official news agency Wafa said a hospital surgeon, a schoolteacher and a student were among those killed in Jenin, a stronghold of Palestinian militant groups.

burs-gl-smw/kir

M.Odermatt--BTB