why Spain poses as the first supporter of the Palestinian cause in Europe

Madrid officially recognized the State of Palestine on Tuesday, in coordination with Ireland and Norway. A political decision which also illustrates Madrid’s long-standing support for the Palestinians.

An emblematic gesture to the attention of the Palestinians. Spain officially recognized the State of Palestine on Tuesday May 28. In a brief solemn declaration, the Spanish Prime Minister considered that this recognition, coordinated with Ireland and Norway, is “a necessity” For “achieve peace” between Israelis and Palestinians. This decision is only “justice”said the head of Spanish diplomacy, José Manuel Albares, on Monday. “Palestinians have the right to have a state, as Israelis have this right”he defended in Brussels, in the presence of Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa.

Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, in retaliation for the attacks of October 7, Spain has held very critical positions towards the Israeli authorities. She is also a strong voice in support of the Palestinian cause, bringing to the European scene this idea of ​​recognition of the State of Palestine.

Since the fall, the head of the Spanish government, the socialist Pedro Sanchez, did not hesitate to denounce certain Israeli operations in Gaza.The whole world is shocked by the images we see every day from Gaza. The number of Palestinian deaths is truly unbearable.”he insisted on November 23 alongside his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, cited by The world.

“Condemning the vile attacks of a terrorist group like Hamas, and at the same time condemning the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians in Gaza, is not a question of politics or ideology, it is a question of humanity.”

Pedro Sanchez

during a meeting of the Spanish Socialist Party in Madrid, November 26, 2023

Spain was “one of the first states to say that Israel had the right to defend itself, but in strict compliance with humanitarian law”, notes Antoine de Laporte, specialist in Spanish political life at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation. The whole thing, “by denouncing Hamas attacks in an extremely clear manner”. Over the weeks, Spain “was very at the forefront in denouncing the very high number of deaths” in the Gaza Strip, continues the expert. To the point of provoking diplomatic tensions with Israel.

The Spanish authorities also released emergency aid of 3.5 million euros for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), at a time when other states were suspending their funding. UNWRA, “spine” humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip, according to the UN, was accused of having employees involved in the October 7 attacks. Madrid then announced new aid, of 20 million euros, for the UN agency.

At the same time, Pedro Sánchez “pushes other EU leaders to recognize the Palestinian state”analyzes political scientist Maria Elisa Alonso, teacher-researcher at the University of Lorraine. In recent months, the Spanish Prime Minister has defended this recognition during several trips abroad, particularly within the European Union, points out Release.

How can we understand this strong support for the cause? For Maria Elisa Alonso, Pedro Sánchez seeks “to show itself as an international leader, to put Spain at the forefront of the international scene” with these speeches. The objective is also political, as the European elections approach.

“There is indeed an internal political issue. It is a subject which mobilizes young people in Spain.”

Antoine de Laporte, specialist in Spanish political life

at franceinfo

And as the subject is primarily carried by the radical left, continues the expert from the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, “there is an issue, for the other left-wing parties, in not letting the issue be monopolized by a single political force.” Especially in the context of a left-wing coalition in power.

The position of Pedro Sanchez’s government is also an illustration of the support that runs through Spanish society. According to a poll, 78% of those questioned are in favor of the recognition of the State of Palestine by European countries and 60% of them also approve of a two-state solution.

Contemporary history also explains this defense of a Palestinian state. Supporting Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the 1940s, Franco’s Spain emerged isolated on the international stage during World War II. To join the concert of nations, Madrid then opted for a “substitution policy”explains the historian Rosa Maria Pardo Sanz in an article devoted to Spanish foreign policy. The Franco regime then turned to new partners in Latin America and the Middle East and tightened “its privileged diplomatic ties with the Arab States”specifies Antoine de Laporte.

Marked by anti-Semitism”, the Franco regime does not recognize the Jewish state. Israel is presented by the dictatorship as an ally of the communists and the freemasons”. Diplomatic relations between Tel Aviv and Madrid are non-existent.This legacy forces the recognition of the State of Israel to be delayed until 1986.”recalls Rosa Maria Pardo Sanz. But the death of the dictator in 1975, and the return of democracy did not question this policy”continues Antoine de Laporte.

In 1979, Adolfo Suárez, first president of the government during the transition, received Yasser Arafat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in Madrid. He authorizes the opening of a Palestinian diplomatic representation in Spain.

“Since the period of democratic transition, Spain has provided political and social support to the Palestinian cause.”

Maria Elisa Alonso, political scientist

at franceinfo

The establishment of official links between Tel Aviv and Madrid in 1986 did not change the Spanish position. In a letter to the ambassadors of Arab countries, the socialist president of the Spanish government at the time, Felipe González, assured that “Spain will maintain its rejection of the occupation of territories by force and the defense of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination”.

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