Middle East Tensions Rise: European Nations Recognize Palestine, Israel Presses On Egypt Border, Blinken Eyes ICC Sanctions

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Spain, Norway and Ireland announced their formal recognition of an independent Palestinian state Wednesday. This decision, seen as a rebuke to Israel’s ongoing military actions in Gaza and its longstanding occupation of Palestinian territories, has sparked a fierce response from Israel.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared their countries would make the recognition official on May 28, in a coordinated action with Ireland. Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris expressed hope that other countries would follow suit, igniting a diplomatic conflict with Israel, as the Times of Israel reported.

“There cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition,” Gahr Støre emphasized at a press conference. Similarly, Sánchez stated before Spain’s lower house, “Spain’s recognition is a decision for peace, for justice, and for coherence. Spain will be accompanied by other European countries. The more there are of us, the sooner we will achieve a ceasefire. We are not going to give up.”

Jerusalem responded by recalling its ambassadors from the three countries for immediate consultations. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz issued a stern warning with a post on social media X, “Israel will not remain silent in the face of those undermining its sovereignty and endangering its security.”

“Their step will have severe consequences,” Katz said, accusing these countries of rewarding terrorism by recognizing a Palestinian state.

Currently, 144 out of 193 United Nations member states recognize Palestine, including most of the global south, Russia, China and India. Only a few European Union members have done so, with the United States consistently opposing unilateral Palestinian statehood outside direct negotiations with Israel.

Israel Expands Control At Rafah Border, Risking Peace with Egypt

As the conflict in Gaza escalates, Israel has intensified its military presence along the Rafah border with Egypt, aiming to secure a critical strategic corridor, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Egyptian officials said Israel now controls approximately 70% of the Philadelphi Corridor, a buffer zone separating Gaza from Egypt.

According to Israeli Army Radio, troops have extended their reach to the Brazil neighborhood in eastern Rafah, with the number of brigades in the area doubling. While the Israeli military has not commented on these operations, control over the corridor is seen as crucial for its efforts to defeat Hamas.

This move threatens to destabilize Israel’s 45-year-old peace treaty with Egypt, which restricts military deployments along the border. The Israeli Defense Ministry has not clarified whether it aims to fully control the southern frontier or provided a timeline for its operations.

Blinken Seeks Bipartisan Support For Sanctions On ICC Over Israeli Arrest Warrants

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pushing for bipartisan support to impose sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors who have issued arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The warrants relate to allegations of war crimes committed by Israel. During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Blinken condemned the ICC’s actions as “profoundly wrongheaded” and expressed a commitment to taking appropriate measures, as BBC News reported. This stance aligns with Republican efforts to curb the ICC’s jurisdiction, particularly concerning nations with independent judicial systems.

Ranking committee member Senator James Risch (R-ID) said the ICC overreached, proposing legislation that could target ICC prosecutor Karim Khan and others involved in the investigation.

Blinken agreed, stating, “We want to work with you on a bipartisan basis to find an appropriate response. The devil’s in the details, so let’s see what you got, and we can take it from there.”

The iShares MSCI Israel ETF EIS traded 0.5% lower on Wednesday…..S££ MOR£

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