Israel summons ambassadors of Spain and Belgium over anti-Israel remarks

Sherry El Gergawi , Friday 24 Nov 2023

Israel summoned the ambassadors of Spain and Belgium following comments made by their respective leaders during a visit to Egypt on Friday.

Pedro Sanchez and Alexander de Croo
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, left, and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo speak during a press conference at Rafah crossing to the Gaza Strip, Egypt, as a temporary ceasefire went into effect Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. Arabic reads, Rafah crossing . AP


Israel's foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of the two countries over statements about Tel Aviv’s rejection of a complete ceasefire to end the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

The European PMs held a press conference at the same border crossing through which Israeli captives passed into Egypt, where they urged a 'permanent truce'.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the current truce in Gaza is not enough and that a permanent ceasefire was needed alongside the continuous flow of humanitarian assistance into the Strip.

"I firmly believe that we have to call on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law," Sanchez told a press conference at the Rafah crossing.

He stressed the importance of reaching a two-state solution, noting that though hard to reach, this solution is essential to resolve the century-old Israeli-Arab conflict.

"The time has come for the international community and the European Union to recognize the State of Palestine. And we in the EU must do this together. But if this is not the case, Spain will take its own decisions", he added.

For his part, the Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, stressed the importance of achieving a permanent truce in Gaza and providing more humanitarian aid to the Strip.

Moreover, he demanded that Israel open more border crossings for the entry of more humanitarian aid.

The two officials also called on Israel to do more to protect civilians in Gaza and to respect international law.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "strongly condemned" Sánchez and De Croo's comments, saying they "did not attribute to Hamas full responsibility for the crimes against humanity it perpetrated and its use of Palestinians as human shields".

"We condemn the false claims of the Prime Ministers who give support to terrorism," Israel's foreign minister Eli Cohen said. 

"Israel is acting per the international law and is fighting an organization worse than ISIS," Cohen added.

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