GlobalIsrael summons Spanish and Belgian ambassadors after criticism received during visit to...

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

The Israeli government said Friday that it would summon the Belgian and Spanish ambassadors following statements made by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Belgian counterpart, Alexander de Croo, about the war between Israel and Hamas.

The announcement was made after the two leaders criticized Israel for the suffering of Palestinian civilians under Israeli military operations in Gaza. Sánchez also urged the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state, and said Spain could do so on its own.

At a joint press conference held on Friday on the Egyptian side of the Rafah-Gaza border crossing, Sánchez said the time had come for the international community and the European Union to once and for all recognize a Palestinian state. He added that it would be better for the EU to do it jointly, “but if not… Spain will make its own decisions.”

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

Sánchez reiterated comments he made on Thursday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the killing of civilians.

“I also reiterate Israel’s right to defend itself, but it must do so within the parameters and limits imposed by international humanitarian law, and this is not the case,” Sánchez said. “The indiscriminate killing of civilians, including thousands of children, is completely unacceptable.”

De Croo did not comment on the recognition of a Palestinian state, but said: “First things first, let’s stop the violence. Let’s free the hostages. Let’s bring the help inside… the first priority is to help the people who are suffering.”

De Croo emphasized the need and hope for a permanent ceasefire, adding that this “requires building it together. And we can only build it together if both parties understand that the solution to this conflict will never be violence. The solution to this conflict is for people to sit at the table.”

“A military operation must respect international humanitarian law. The killing of civilians must stop now. Too many people have already died. The destruction of Gaza is unacceptable,” he said.

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

Israel later criticized the two European leaders “for not recognizing full responsibility for the crimes against humanity committed by Hamas, which massacred our citizens and used Palestinians as human shields.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen gave orders to summon the ambassadors of the two European countries to receive a harsh reprimand. “We condemn the false claims of the prime ministers of Spain and Belgium, who support terrorism,” Cohen declared.

“Israel is behaving in accordance with international law and is fighting a murderous terrorist organization worse than (the Islamic State group) that perpetrates war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, responded on Friday night to the fact that the Spanish ambassador had been summoned.

“The accusations of the Israeli government against the President of the Government and the Belgian Prime Minister are totally false and unacceptable,” he declared. “We categorically reject them.”

Albares said the Spanish prime minister has repeatedly and publicly defended Israel’s right to self-defense, and that his tour of the region this week sought “a path to peace.”

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