29th Feb 2024

Israel recalls ambassador to Spain in new diplomatic spat

  • Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez during his trip to Israel last week (Photo: La Moncloa)
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In a new diplomatic spat between Tel Aviv and Madrid, Israel recalled its ambassador to Spain, Rodica Radian-Gordon, on Thursday (30 November) — after comments made by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez.

Sánchez publicly questioned on state television whether Israel is respecting international law in its response to the Hamas attacks on 7 October.

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"With the images, we are seeing and the growing number, especially of boys and girls, who are dying, I have serious doubts that they are complying [with international law]," Sanchez said in an interview.

He also repeated the idea that recognition of Palestine could help towards achieving peace in the Middle East.

Sánchez remarks were described by Israel's foreign affairs minister Eli Cohen as "outrageous" and "baseless accusations" when announcing that he had decided to recall Radian-Gordon for consultations in Jerusalem.

"Israel is acting, and will continue to act, according to international law, and will continue the war until all the hostages are returned and Hamas is eliminated from Gaza," he said on X, formerly Twitter.

"A single entity is responsible for the October 7 massacre … Hamas is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the citizens of Israel as well as against the residents of the Gaza Strip," Cohen also said.

Earlier this month, comments during a joint visit by Sánchez and Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo also sparked tension.

Cohen accused Sánchez and De Croo of "supporting terrorism" and making "false claims".

Last week, Israel summoned the ambassadors of Spain (Ana Salomon) and Belgium (Jean-Luc Bodson) for a meeting.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office ordered Cohen to summon Salomon for a "reprimand", on the day that a shooting in Jerusalem left three people dead and several injured.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, calling Radian-Gordon back for consultations in practice means an "indefinite withdrawal".

In the past, Morocco and Algeria have recalled their ambassadors to Spain due to tensions surrounding the disputed former Spanish colony of Western Sahara. They left their diplomatic posts vacant for periods of 10 and 19 months, respectively.

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