Spain slams Israeli restrictions on Jerusalem consulate

Israel imposed curbs after Madrid recognized Palestinian state and has said it will not back down, warning that Jerusalem consulate could be shut

Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares Bueno addresses a media conference prior to talks on the Middle East in Brussels, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares Bueno addresses a media conference prior to talks on the Middle East in Brussels, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

MADRID — Spain has rejected Israel’s “restrictions” on the activities of its Jerusalem consulate in response to Madrid’s recognition of a Palestinian state, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said Friday.

“This morning we sent a ‘note verbale’ to the Israeli government rejecting any restriction on the normal activity of Spain’s consulate general in Jerusalem, as its status is guaranteed by international law and by the Vienna Convention” on diplomatic relations, Albares told Onda Cero radio.

“This status cannot be changed unilaterally by Israel,” he said, indicating that Madrid had asked Israel “to reverse this decision.”

The Israeli move came a day before Spain, Ireland and Norway formally recognized Palestinian statehood in a coordinated move that was denounced by Israel as a prize for Hamas, whose October 7 attacks sparked the Gaza war. Some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the assault and 252 taken hostage.

Israel’s foreign ministry said that from June 1, the Spanish consulate must stop offering services to Palestinians from the West Bank and was allowed only to “provide consular services strictly to residents” of Jerusalem.

In a post on X, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz rejected Albares’s request and insisted the restrictions would be “strictly” enforced.

Any violation could see “the closure of the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem,” he warned.

“Any connection between the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem and individuals in the Palestinian Authority poses a threat to Israel’s national security,” he wrote.

“Israel will not remain silent in the face of the Spanish government’s unilateral decision to recognize a Hamas-led Palestinian state and the antisemitic statements by Yolanda Diaz to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian state from the river to the sea,” he said.

Last week, Diaz, Spain’s far-left deputy premier used the slogan “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea”, a phrase Israeli officials have repeatedly denounced as calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.

The slogan refers to the British mandate borders of Palestine, which stretched from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean before Israel was created in 1948, and includes all of Israel.

Several days later, Katz posted a video on X splicing footage of the October 7 attacks with flamenco dancing, saying: “Sanchez: Hamas thanks you for your service.”

Spain said the post was “scandalous and revolting” and pledged to make a “firm” response to Israel and Katz’s online “provocations” in a joint move with Ireland and Norway.

Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report

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