23rd February 2024
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Spain’s foreign minister speaks with Israeli ambassador to avoid diplomatic row

Spain said on Tuesday that it ‘would work’ with Israel to maintain good relations after the Israeli Embassy accused some Spanish ministers of siding with the terrorist group Hamas.

Israel’s Embassy in Spain said on Monday it was ‘absolutely immoral’ that ‘certain elements within the Spanish government have opted to align themselves with this ISIS-type terrorism’, in a reference to Hamas and the Islamic State group.

In a statement (see Tweet below) the Israeli Embassy in Spain said it ‘strongly condemns the recent statements of some members of the Spanish government’ with regards to the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza and calls on the acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to ‘denounce and condemn unequivocally these shameful statements’.

‘These statements are not only absolutely immoral, but they also endanger the safety of Jewish communities of Spain, exposing them to the risk of a greater number of incidents and anti-Semitic attacks,’ the statement added.

While the embassy did not specify who made the comments, the statement follows criticism over Israel’s response to Hamas’ attacks on 7 October from several left-wing ministers in Sánchez’s coalition government.

Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra of the Podemos party has called on Sánchez to file a lawsuit for ‘war crimes’ against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the International Criminal Court (ICC). ALSO READ: Spanish minister says Israel’s Netanyahu should be investigated for war crimes.

Israel declared war on Hamas after the Islamist group’s fighters broke through the heavily fortified Gaza border on 7 October, killing more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, and taking at least 199 people hostage.

Israel has responded to the attacks with withering air strikes on Gaza that have killed more than 2,700 people, mainly civilians and imposed a crippling siege on the territory that has left residents with dwindling supplies of food, water and fuel.

Israel has also demanded that residents of north Gaza leave for the south, hoping to clear the area of civilians in preparation for a perilous urban ground assault.

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares (main picture) said on Tuesday he had spoken to Israel’s ambassador to Spain, Rodica Radian-Gordon, after the embassy issued its statement, which he called an ‘unfriendly gesture’.

‘The final conclusion was that we are going to work together so the friendship between Spain and Israel, between the people of Spain and Israel, is maintained, as it has been until now’, he told a news conference following a weekly cabinet meeting, adding the issue was ‘settled’.

‘In every government there are different opinions, much more so in a coalition government,’ Albares said.

‘The position of the government of Spain at the moment is very clear … We condemn the terrorist attack by a terrorist organisation, which is what Hamas is, against Israel,’ he said.

While Spain recognises ‘Israel’s right to defend itself against this terrorist attack’, any action it takes ‘has to comply with international law’, Albares reiterated.

Pedro Sánchez also said on Monday: ‘The language of violence and conflict is the opposite of what the European Union defends. I would like to reiterate our condemnation of the Hamas attack against Israel. Israel has the legitimate right to defend itself within international law and humanitarian law. At the same time, the protection of civilians is essential, as is access to international aid for those in need, especially in the Gaza Strip. The only way to definitively resolve the conflict is the recognition of the two States, so that they can coexist in peace and security.’

ALSO READ: International law does not allow for mass evacuation, Pedro Sánchez warns Israel.

ALSO READ: 19-year-old Spaniard confirmed dead after Hamas terrorist attack in Israel.

ALSO READ: EU president calls Hamas attack an ‘ancient evil, terrorism and an act of war’.

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