MADRID: The Spanish defence minister said on Saturday that the conflict in Gaza is a “real genocide”, as relations between Israel and Spain worsen following Madrid’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state. Israel has strongly rejected accusations made against it by South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that it is committing a genocide against Palestinians, saying it is waging war on the Hamas group.

The remark by Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles in an interview with TVE state television echoed a comment by Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz who earlier this week also described the Gaza conflict as a genocide.

“We cannot ignore what is happening in Gaza, which is a real genocide,” Robles said in the interview, during which she also discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and conflicts in Africa.

She also said Madrid’s recognition of Palestine was not a move against Israel, adding that it was designed to help “end violence in Gaza”.

“This is not against anyone, this is not against the Israeli state, this is not against the Israelis, who are people we respect,” she said.Spain, along with Ireland and Norway, declared this week it would recognise a Palestinian state on May 28, prompting an angry response from Israel, which said it amounted to a “reward for terrorism” and recalled its ambassadors from the three capitals.

Judges at the ICJ, the top UN court, on Friday ordered Israel to immediately halt its military assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, in a landmark emergency ruling in the case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide.

Spain’s Foreign Minister

Jose Manuel Albares said on Saturday that Israel must obey the court’s ruling.

“The International Court of Justice’s precautionary measures, including the cessation of Israel’s offensive in Rafah, are mandatory. We demand its application,” he said in a post on social media site X.

South Africa has accused Israel of failing to uphold its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention. Israel rejects the accusation, arguing it is acting to defend itself and fighting Hamas.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday that if more nations recognised the Palestinian state it would add to international pressure for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2024

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