A Palestinian state – Belgium abstained, Ireland, Norway and Spain will support it

Palestinian flag/EPA

Belgium abstained – no decision was made regarding the issue of recognition of the Palestinian state, despite the fact that the government session discussed this topic.

Several parties in the coalition government, including the Greens, Christian Democrats and Flemish and Forward (Socialists), are seeking recognition, while the liberals Reform Movement and Open Liberal Democrats and Flemish are abstaining on the issue.

Prime Minister Alexandre de Croix said that it is too early to recognize a Palestinian state and that Belgium is committed to an immediate improvement of the situation on the ground. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hajja Labib, added that the recognition is a matter of time and that it should have a significant effect, and not just be symbolic.

In March, the Belgian government called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and respect for international law.

Nine out of a total of 27 member states of the European Union recognize the State of Palestine. Eight of them did so before joining the bloc – ever since Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat declared Palestine an independent state on November 15, 1988 – Malta, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (until 1993 Czechoslovakia), Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland. They were followed in 2014 by Sweden, which became the first country to recognize Palestine after joining the EU.

Ireland, Norway and Spain have already announced recognition of a Palestinian state, citing the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and the need to reach a two-state solution for lasting peace in the region.

"The ongoing war in Gaza has made it very clear that achieving peace and stability must be based on a resolution of the Palestinian issue," Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gaar Store said.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the decision was based on "peace, justice and coherence". "The time has come to move from words to action," Sanchez said.

The three countries said their recognition of the Palestinian state would take effect on May 28.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz immediately announced the recall of Israel's ambassadors from Ireland and Norway in response to Wednesday's announcements.

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