Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced an early recognition of a Palestinian state and heavily criticized Israel. “Spain is ready to recognize the Palestinian state,” the socialist said on Wednesday in parliament in Madrid. He met with the heads of government of Ireland and Malta to take this important step forward.

Ireland and Australia had previously spoken out in favor of a two-state solution. This means an independent Palestinian state that exists peacefully side by side with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects this solution, as does the Islamist Hamas.

The recognition of a Palestinian state is right “because the social majority demands it, it is in Europe’s geopolitical interest and because the international community cannot help the Palestinian state if it does not recognize it,” emphasized Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez.

At the same time, he attacked the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The Israeli government’s completely disproportionate response to the Hamas terrorist attack overrides decades of humanitarian law and threatens to destabilize the Middle East and therefore the entire world,” he said. One of the most deplorable humanitarian disasters of this century is taking place in the region. “In addition to the more than 33,000 deaths in the Gaza Strip, a million innocent civilians suffer from hunger every day, half a million people suffer from anxiety or depression, and every day ten children lose a leg or an arm, often amputated without anesthesia,” complained Sánchez.

In November, Israel reacted angrily to criticism from Madrid, recalling its ambassador to consultations and summoning Spain’s ambassador to Israel to the Foreign Ministry for consultations. Meanwhile, pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire is increasing, especially from the USA.

Ireland’s government also wants to formally recognize Palestine as a state shortly, said Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Micheál Martin on Tuesday evening, according to media reports in Dublin. Delaying recognition is “no longer credible or tenable.” He said he had held discussions on recognition with other countries involved in peace initiatives in the Gaza war and intended to submit a formal proposal for recognition to the government once international discussions on the issue were completed. “But have no doubt, the recognition of a Palestinian state will happen.” The government of the EU member has been one of the critics of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the war.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a speech on Tuesday evening that recognizing Palestine may be the only way to end violence in the Middle East and pave the way for a two-state solution. After criticism of her statement, Wong admitted that she did not want to change Australia’s political position, but rather start a discussion. The aim is to achieve long-term peace in the region and for all hostages kidnapped by the militant Islamist Hamas to be released. The extremists should have no place in the Palestinian state.

The Gaza war was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel’s history, which terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups carried out near the border in Israel on October 7th. More than 1,200 people were killed and 250 were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu’s war aim was to destroy Hamas and bring back all the hostages. The high number of civilian casualties is the result of Hamas’ tactic of using them as human shields, he said. Netanyahu rejects a Palestinian state and thus the so-called two-state solution, which allies such as the USA and Germany are also urging him to adopt.