Israel says recalls Madrid envoy over Spain PM remarks on Gaza

AFP , Thursday 30 Nov 2023

Israel's top diplomat said Thursday he was recalling the country's envoy to Madrid over "outrageous remarks" by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez questioning the legality of Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

Eli Cohen
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen speaks during a press conference at the European Office of the United Nations, Palais des Nation, in Geneva on November 14, 2023. AFP


"Because of the outrageous remarks by the Spanish prime minister, who again repeated baseless claims, I have decided to summon the Israeli ambassador in Spain for consultations in Jerusalem," Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The move came after an interview in which Sanchez said he had "serious doubts" over the legality of Israel's actions in the war-torn Gaza Strip, an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity, saying it was "not the first time" the Spanish leader had expressed such views.

Diplomatic tensions between Israel and Spain have soared following repeated remarks by Sanchez criticizing Israel's military campaign in Gaza that came in response to Hamas's October 7 Al-Aqsa Flood operation.

In an interview on Thursday with Spanish public television, Sanchez said the world had to tell Israel "it needs to base its actions on international humanitarian law, and with the images, we are seeing and the growing number of people dying, especially boys and girls, I have serious doubts".

Israel has also recalled its ambassadors from Turkey and South Africa following remarks by those countries' leaders over the war in Gaza.

It was not immediately clear when Israeli ambassador Rodica Radian-Gordon would leave Madrid for Jerusalem.

"Israel is acting and will continue to act according to international law and we will continue with the war until all of the hostages are freed and until the elimination of Hamas in Gaza," Cohen wrote on X.

"There is only one body responsible for the massacre on October 7 and the situation in Gaza today, and that is the Hamas terror organization that carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity against Israeli citizens and residents of the Gaza Strip."

Sanchez sparked another angry response from Israel last Friday when he denounced the "indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians" in a speech in Egypt.

He was joined by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo who also said Israel's "operation needs to respect international humanitarian law".

The Israeli foreign minister promptly summoned the ambassadors of both countries "for a harsh rebuke", his office said in a statement, accusing the two leaders of supporting "terrorism".

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