July 19, 2024

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Israel in diplomatic dispute with Spain and Belgium over Gaza bombardment

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Israel has become locked in a diplomatic dispute with Spain and Belgium after it accused the EU countries of supporting terrorism in response to their prime ministers’ criticism of its bombardment of Gaza.

The Israeli and Spanish foreign ministers exchanged harsh words and summoned each other’s ambassadors for reprimands as the dispute spiralled on Friday while Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez and his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo continued a visit to the Middle East.

Speaking in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, Sánchez had said the number of civilians killed by Israeli attacks on Gaza was “unbearable”.

And on Friday on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing into Gaza, Spain’s leader said Israel was not acting within the limits of humanitarian law. “The indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, including thousands of boys and girls, [is] completely unacceptable,” he said.

His words, and similar sentiments expressed by De Croo, drew a sharp response from Eli Cohen, Israel’s foreign minister. “We condemn the false claims of the Prime Ministers of Spain and Belgium which support terrorism,” he wrote on X.

“Israel is acting in accordance to international law and is fighting a murderous terrorist organisation worse than Isis, that is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Cohen wrote.

Spain was taken aback by the Israeli foreign minister’s response, said one Spanish official. Foreign minister José Manuel Albares in a statement on Friday night condemned Israel’s “false, misplaced and unacceptable accusations”.

Albares said Israel’s response was “especially serious” because it was aimed at the Spanish prime minister, whose country holds the six-month presidency of the Council of the EU, and the leader of Belgium, which takes over…

2023-11-24 19:06:29

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