Spain PM Sanchez angers Israel with comments on Gaza again

Spanish ambassador summoned after Sanchez said he doubted Israel respected the international humanitarian law

By Reuters

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Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. - Reuters file
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. - Reuters file

Published: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 8:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 8:36 PM

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Thursday angered Israel again by saying he doubted Israel respected the international humanitarian law and repeating military action in the strip was not acceptable. The prime minister's comments prompted the Israeli government to summon the Spanish ambassador for reprimand for the second time in less than 10 days. A spokesperson for the Spanish foreign ministry was not able to immediately comment.

"The footage we are seeing and the growing numbers of children dying, I have serious doubt (Israel) is complying with international humanitarian law," Sanchez said in an interview with Spanish state-owned broadcaster TVE.

"What we are seeing in Gaza is not acceptable," he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government on Thursday summoned Madrid's ambassador "after the shameful statement by the Spanish prime minister on the same day that Hamas terrorists are murdering Israelis in our capital Jerusalem," referring to the killing of three civilians at a Jerusalem bus stop during morning rush hour.

Last week, similar comments by Sanchez and his Belgian counterpart Alexander de Croo in the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing prompted Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to summon the ambassadors of both countries over the remarks that he said repeated "false claims" and "gave terrorism a boost".

A Spanish government source said Israel has called in the Spanish ambassador several times since the Hamas attack on October 7. Despite last week's diplomatic spat, though, Sanchez, who is pushing for a peace conference, said in the interview that the relationship between Israel and Spain was "correct" and "friendly countries also have to say things to each other."

He also said that European countries should discuss the recognition of a Palestinian state. Calls for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have grown since October 7, but Israel has said a Palestinian state must be demilitarised so as not to threaten its security.

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