Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro SanchezMoncloa Palace/Fernando Calvo/Pool via Reuters

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that a plan by Ireland, Malta, Slovenia and Spain to recognize a Palestinian state constitutes a reward to terrorism.

The Prime Ministers of the four European countries announced last Friday that they had agreed to take initial steps towards recognizing a Palestinian state.

The leaders stated that they “discussed together our readiness to recognize Palestine and said that we would do so when it can make a positive contribution and the circumstances are right.”

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “The comments of the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, about recognizing a Palestinian state, as well as the joint statement by Spain, Malta, Slovenia and Ireland about their readiness to recognize a Palestinian state, constitute a reward for terrorism.”

“The recognition of a Palestinian state following the 7 October massacre sends a message to Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations that murderous terror attacks on Israelis will be reciprocated with political gestures to the Palestinians.”

“The only way to fight Palestinian terrorism is to unequivocally condemn Hamas for the war crimes, crimes against humanity and sexual crimes that it committed during the October 7th attack and continues to commit, and to issue an explicit call for the release of all the hostages,” said the Foreign Ministry.

“A resolution of the conflict will only be possible through direct negotiations between the parties. Any engagement in the recognition of a Palestinian state only distances reaching a resolution and increases regional instability,” it concluded.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has long urged countries to recognize “Palestine” as a means of bypassing direct talks with Israel.

While several European countries have recognized “Palestine” in recent years, those moves were symbolic ones that have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron recently said his country could officially recognize a Palestinian state after a ceasefire in Gaza without waiting for the outcome of what could be years-long talks between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

A report in The Washington Post last month said that the Biden administration, together with several Arab countries, is quickly advancing a plan for a timetable to create a Palestinian state the day after the war in Gaza ends.

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel rejects international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinian Arabs and would continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

The Knesset later voted to back Netanyahu’s declaration opposing any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.