Monday, May 20, 2024

Israel summons Spanish and Belgian ambassadors after criticism during visit to Rafah

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RAFAH, Egypt (AP) – The Israeli government said Friday it would summon the ambassadors of Belgium and Spain following comments by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo about the war between Israel and Hamas.

The announcement came after both leaders criticized Israel for the suffering of Palestinian civilians under Israeli military operations in Gaza. Sanchez also called for recognition of a Palestinian state by the European Union, and said Spain could do so on its own.

Speaking at a joint press conference on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Friday, Sanchez said it was time for the international community and the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state once and for all. He said it would be better for the EU to do it together, but “if not…Spain will make its own decision.”

Sanchez spoke at the end of a two-day visit with De Croo to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt. Spain currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, with Belgium taking over in January.

Sanchez reiterated comments he made Thursday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the killing of civilians.

“I reiterate that Israel has the right to defend itself, but it must do so within the conditions and limitations imposed by international humanitarian law, which is not the case,” Sanchez said. Stated. “The indiscriminate killing of civilians, including thousands of boys and girls, is completely unacceptable.”

Decroo did not comment on recognition of a Palestinian state, but said: “First of all, let’s stop the violence. Let’s release the hostages. Let’s get help inside…The first priority is to help those who are suffering. .”

Mr. De Croo stressed the need and hope for a permanent ceasefire, adding that this “needs to be built together.” And it can only be built together if both sides understand that the solution to this conflict is never violence. The solution to this conflict is for people to sit around a table. ”

“Military operations must respect international humanitarian law. The killing of civilians must stop now. Too many people have died. The destruction of Gaza is unacceptable.”

“We cannot accept that society is being destroyed the way it is being destroyed,” he added.

Israel later slammed both prime ministers for “failing to take full responsibility for the crimes against humanity committed by Hamas, which has massacred its people and used Palestinians as human shields.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen ordered the ambassadors of each country to be summoned and severely reprimanded. “I condemn the false claims made by the prime ministers of Spain and Belgium of supporting terrorism,” Cohen said.

“Israel is acting in accordance with international law and fighting a murderous terrorist organization far worse than the (Islamic State), which has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Álvarez responded to the summons of the Spanish ambassador late Friday.

“The Israeli government’s accusations against the government president and the Belgian prime minister are completely false and unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “We categorically reject them.”

Alvarez said the Spanish prime minister has repeatedly defended Israel’s right to self-defense in public and that his trip to the region this week was seeking “a path to peace.”

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