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Relations between the EU and Israel are taking a nosedive as Spain and Ireland are set to formally recognize a Palestinian state

BRUSSELS (AP) — Relations between the European Union and Israel have taken a nosedive on the eve of diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state by EU members Ireland and Spain, with Madrid suggesting sanctions against Israel should be considered over its continued attacks in southern Gaza. city ​​of Rafa.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Spain that its consulate in Jerusalem should not help the Palestinians.

At the same time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, a Spaniard, threw his full weight behind the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others, including Hamas leaders.

“The court prosecutor has been strongly intimidated and accused of anti-Semitism,” Borrell said. “The word anti-Semitic is too strong. It’s too important.”

Angry words abounded on Monday, with Katz accusing Spain of “rewarding terror” by recognizing a Palestinian state and saying “the days of the Inquisition are over.” He was referring to the infamous Spanish institution founded in the 15th century to uphold Roman Catholic orthodoxy, forcing Jews and Muslims to flee, convert to Catholicism or, in some cases, face death .

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“No one will force us to convert our religion or threaten our existence – those who harm us, we will harm in return,” Katz said.

While the EU and its member states have been steadfast in condemning the October 7 Hamas-led attack in which militants crossed the Gaza border into Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage, the bloc was equally critical of the subsequent Israeli attack. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in this offensive.

The latest attacks focused on Rafah, where Palestinian health workers said Israeli airstrikes on Sunday killed at least 35 people, hit tents for displaced people and left “countless” others trapped in flaming rubble.

The UN’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, demanded on Friday that Israel immediately halt its offensive on Rafah even if it does not order a ceasefire on the Gaza enclave.

“Israel must stop its offensive in Rafah,” Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said.

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Spain, Ireland and Norway, which is not a member of the EU, plan to make official their recognition of a Palestinian state on Tuesday. Their joint announcement last week sparked an angry response from Israeli authorities, who summoned the countries’ ambassadors to Tel Aviv to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, where they were filmed showing videos of the Hamas attack and kidnapping of October 7.

Albares criticized the treatment of the ambassadors. “We reject anything that does not fall within diplomatic courtesy and the customs of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” he said.

“But at the same time, we have also agreed that we will not fall into provocations that will distance us from our goal,” he added. “Our goal is to recognize the State of Palestine tomorrow, to do everything possible to reach a permanent ceasefire as soon as possible and ultimately to achieve that final peace.”

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Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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