At hard-right conference, minister blasts Spain’s plans to recognize Palestinian state

Amichai Chikli attends Madrid meeting organized by Spain’s controversial Vox; says statehood would be a reward for Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli takes part in Spanish far-right party Vox's rally 'Europa Viva 24' in Madrid on May 19, 2024. (OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)
Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli takes part in Spanish far-right party Vox's rally 'Europa Viva 24' in Madrid on May 19, 2024. (OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Visiting Madrid Sunday, Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli criticized Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s plans to recognize a Palestinian state, saying this would be a “reward” for the deadly attack Hamas carried out in Israel on October 7.

Chikli spoke at a Madrid meeting of global hard-right leaders organized by Spain’s Vox party. Javier Milei, Argentina’s new right-wing, pro-Israel president, was also invited to address the conference.

“Unfortunately, the current prime minister of Spain, Sanchez, believes that the Palestinians should be rewarded for the massacre — that this is the time to give them a state,” Chikli told the meeting.

Spain has been one of Europe’s most vocal critics of Israel’s offensive against Hamas, which began after Hamas terrorists launched their deadly attack into southern Israel.

Sanchez said in March that Spain and Ireland, along with Slovenia and Malta. had agreed to take their first steps towards recognition of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, seeing a two-state solution as essential for lasting peace.

The Socialist premier is due to announce on Wednesday the date on which Madrid will recognize a Palestinian state, along with several European Union partners.

“It is important to highlight some crucial facts about the Palestinian Authority,” said Chikli, speaking about the Palestinian body that governs parts of the West Bank.

“Not a single senior official of the Palestinian Authority has condemned the barbaric massacre of Hamas. Not a single one.”

In Spain, Vox is controversial both for its platform — which includes restricting abortion access, repealing domestic violence laws, and shuttering the ministry of equality — and for a history of neo-Nazis in its ranks. Five years ago, the party nominated Holocaust revisionist Fernando Paz as a congressional candidate. Paz has said the facts of the Holocaust are “far from being established with accuracy” and called the Nuremberg trials a “farce.”

Vox is also home to Jordi de la Fuente, a member of the Barcelona government who previously led the neo-fascist Republican Social Movement, which dissolved in 2018. Other Vox members have included José María Ruiz Puerta, who led the neo-Nazi group CEDADE, and José Ignacio Vega Peinado, who was part of the neo-Nazi group Radical Action in the 1990s and received prison time for attacking and permanently disabling a professor at the University of Valencia.

Argentina’s President Javier Milei gestures on stage during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox’s rally “Europa Viva 24” in Madrid on May 19, 2024. (OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Pedro Valera, a leader of Spanish neo-Nazism who has served jail time for disseminating hate speech, also recently appeared at Vox’s closing campaign ceremony in Barcelona.

Until recently, officials in the Likud party were discouraged from promoting alliances with Vox. In 2019, Netanyahu’s then-foreign affairs director Eli Hazan tweeted his support for the party and faced enough backlash to delete and apologize for the post.

But those boundaries have largely vanished under the current right-wing government. In December, Chikli met with Vox president Santiago Abascal, whom he called “a man of truth who, in the twilight of Western civilization, where moral relativism threatens to collapse it, stands as a beacon of moral clarity.”

Last month, Chikli attended CPAC Hungary and praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a longtime ideological ally of Netanyahu’s, as a “supporter of Israel.” (The authoritarian leader has been condemned by US antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt for “rhetoric that clearly evokes Nazi racial ideology,” as well as by Hungarian rabbis.)

Chikli also met earlier this year with Sweden’s far-right party the Swedish Democrats. The second-largest party in the Swedish parliament, it has a history of Nazi founders and its members have been criticized for connections with neo-Nazi movements even in recent years. Israel has so far avoided establishing official ties with the party, but the Swedish Democrats have declared themselves “the most pro-Israel party in Sweden.”

Chikli’s ministry is charged with engaging with and supporting Jewish  communities outside Israel; he added fighting antisemitism to its mandate when he assumed the position last year. While Chikli is strengthening his bond with far-right European parties, he has said that he is not interested in building a relationship with some Jews around the world.

In January, at a conference hosted by the European Jewish Association in Krakow, Chikli said his official capacity would not induce him to build alliances with Diaspora Jews who participate in international protests against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

“A Jew who feels at home surrounded by a mob that is shouting, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ I don’t consider him a Jew,” Chikli told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I don’t want to build a bridge with him.”

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