FM forbids Spanish consulate in Jerusalem from serving West Bank Palestinians

Announcement comes in response to Spanish recognition of Palestinian state and Spanish minister saying ‘Palestine will be free from the river to the sea’

Foreign Minister Israel Katz in Jerusalem, February 19, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Israel Katz in Jerusalem, February 19, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Israel Katz announced Friday that the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem will no longer provide services to Palestinians from the West Bank following Spain’s announcement that it will recognize an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“I have decided to sever the connection between the Spanish mission to Israel and the Palestinians, and to prohibit the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem from providing services to Palestinians from the West Bank,” Katz said in a statement.

Referring to Spain’s Labor and Economy Minister Yolanda Díaz, who drew allegations of antisemitism for her use of the phrase “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,” Katz said that if “this ignorant hate-filled person wants to truly understand what radical Islam wants, she should learn about the 700 years of Islamic rule in Al-Andalus — modern-day Spain.”

The phrase “From the river to the sea,” which references the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, is viewed by many Jews and others as antisemitic as it promotes a reality in which Israel does not exist as a Jewish homeland, leading some to see it as a call for ethnic cleansing or genocide against Israel’s Jews.

Tensions have cropped up between Jerusalem and Madrid in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas terror onslaught – in which some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed, and 252 were kidnapped – and the ongoing war in Gaza, where Israel is fighting to dismantle the Palestinian terror group’s capabilities.

In November 2023, then-foreign minister Eli Cohen recalled Israel’s ambassador after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he had “serious doubt” over the legality of the war with Hamas.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech to announce that Spain will recognize a Palestinian state on May 28, at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid on May 22, 2024. (Thomas Coex / AFP)

Spain’s ambassador to Israel was also summoned for a reprimand over that incident.

Several Spanish lawmakers have also come under fire from Jewish and Israeli groups in recent months for anti-Israel or antisemitic statements, including Youth and Children Minister Sira Rego, who on October 16 said that Palestinians had the “right to resist after decades of occupation” and called for “the entire Israeli diplomatic delegation” to be expelled from Spain.

Spain, alongside Ireland and Norway, announced on Wednesday that it was set to recognize a Palestinian state.

Jerusalem responded angrily to the announcements, recalling its ambassadors there for immediate consultations.

The Foreign Ministry summoned on Thursday those countries’ envoys in Israel to view a video of the capture of female Israel Defense Forces soldiers by the terror group Hamas on October 7.

Spanish ambassador Ana Sálomon Pérez, Norwegian ambassador Per Egil Selvaag and Irish ambassador Sonya McGuinness watch footage of female soldiers being abducted from the Nahal Oz base on October 7 at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 23, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After the screening, the three were dressed down by senior diplomats, although Katz, who ordered that they be hauled in for the reprimand and screening, was away on a diplomatic trip to France and so was not present.

He had previously said that showing them the footage would “underscore to them what a twisted decision their governments made.”

The Kan public broadcaster reported that the screening of the footage, alongside the prohibitions on the Spanish consulate, was just one of several ways that Israel planned to retaliate against the diplomats for their countries’ recognition of a Palestinian state. According to the report, the government was also considering banning them from briefings.

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