Israel punishes Palestinians after Norway, Spain, Ireland recognize State of Palestine
Finance Minister and West Bank colonial governor Bezalel Smotrich, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Smotrich is vowing to punish Palestinians with more Jewish settlements on Palestinian land after Norway, Ireland, and Spain announced their intention to recognize the State of Palestine. | Pool photo via AP

HAIFA—On Wednesday, Israel’s extremist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take “immediate punitive measures” against the Palestinian Authority in response to the decisions of Norway, Spain, and Ireland to recognize the State of Palestine.

Smotrich called for an immediate meeting of the Colonial Planning Council in the occupied West Bank, which he heads, to approve 10,000 new illegal settlement units to be prepared for occupancy by Israeli citizens.

He also called for the cabinet to approve on Thursday the establishment of a new Jewish settlement on Palestinian land for every single country that recognizes the Palestinian state. He instructed the directorate responsible for settlements to prepare a strategic plan to construct three entirely new settlements in response to the actions of the three countries in question—Norway, Spain, and Ireland.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced on Wednesday that his country will recognize the State of Palestine as of May 28. The decision to recognize Palestine as a state, under Article 28 of the Norwegian Constitution, requires the approval of the King in the Council of State. After the adoption of a royal decree next Friday, Palestine will be officially informed of the recognition through a verbal note.

This scene from Oct. 10, 2015, is a typical one in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank territory. Israeli police rough up a Palestinian man in the streets of Hebron. With Israel vowing to punish Palestinians after more countries recognized their statehood, many expect more deadly violence from the government and ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers. | Nasser Shiyoukhi / AP

Recognizing Palestine as a state means that Norway will consider Palestine an independent state with the rights and duties that result from that.

Later in the day Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris confirmed that his country also now recognizes a Palestinian state, saying, “We are confident that more countries will join us in the coming weeks.”

Harris added that it is a historic and important day for Ireland and Palestine, as both countries share a history of being colonized and subjected to imperialist violence. Ireland was the first member state of the European Union to recognize the “Palestine Liberation Organization” in 1980.

Rounding out the list, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also announced his country’s recognition of the State of Palestine. Sanchez stressed that his country’s declaration is in line with a foreign policy that respects international law in Palestine, and Spain’s vote in the United Nations for full membership of the State of Palestine was in support of this decision.

He continued: “We tell the innocent Palestinians that we are with them. Despite the destruction and siege, the State of Palestine will remain in our hearts.”

All three governments said the decision to recognize Palestine is intended to apply further pressure on Israel to end its genocidal war in Gaza, its oppressive occupation of Palestinian lands, and to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and lasting peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the three declarations and said they are proof of the international support for the Palestinian people and their inalienable and legitimate rights in their land and homeland despite Israeli and U.S. obstinance on the issue.

Over 140 countries—most of the United Nations—already recognize the State of Palestine. The addition of Norway, Ireland, and Spain to the list shows the increasing isolation of Israel and the U.S., as they are now losing the backing of even their usual European allies.

Israel opposes a Palestinian state, while the U.S. government sticks to a policy of officially supporting the future creation of a Palestinian state but only as a result of negotiations and Israel’s approval.

Abbas said the list of countries that recognize Palestine will only continue to grow.

The leaders of three countries have announced their governments will join the list of nations recognizing the State of Palestine. Top: Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Bottom left: Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Simon Harris. Bottom Right: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. | Photos: AP

“The right of peoples to self-determination is an established right recognized under international law,” he said, “and we renew our continuous call to countries that have not yet recognized the State of Palestine to stand up to their responsibilities and acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and restore confidence in a global system based on…equal rules and rights for all peoples of the Earth.”

The Palestine Liberation Organization also welcomed the recognition of the State of Palestine by Spain, Norway, and Ireland. The secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Hussein Al-Sheikh, said in a statement on the X platform:

“This is a historic moment in which the free world triumphs for truth and justice after long decades of Palestinian national struggle, suffering, pain, occupation, racism, murder, oppression, abuse, and destruction.”

He also expressed his thanks to the countries of the world that have recognized and will recognize the State of Palestine, stressing that “this is the path to stability, security, and peace in the region.”

As for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it summoned its ambassadors to Norway, Ireland, and Spain for “emergency consultations.” Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused the three countries of “award[ing] a gold medal to Hamas murderers and rapists.” He warned, “This hasty step will have serious repercussions.”

So far, though, it is Palestinians who are on the receiving end of the Israeli government’s anger.

In addition to his demands for new illegal settlements on Palestinian land, Smotrich also stated that he is working to cancel the “Norwegian path” that the cabinet approved a few months ago. Under that program, funds are transferred to a bank account in Norway for the use of the Palestinian Authority. Smotrich said he would order the transfers to stop and demand the return of all funds previously transferred.

He indicated that he would also demand the permanent cancellation of all VIP permits from Palestinian Authority officials for all checkpoints and impose additional financial fines on senior officials and their families.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, meanwhile, staged an intentionally provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, called the Temple Mount to Jews. Standing there, he declared, “We will not even allow a statement about a Palestinian state.”

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Al-Ittihad (The Union) is the daily Arabic newspaper published by the Communist Party of Israel.