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MADRID: The European Union should recognise a Palestinian state since this would help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and “stabilise” the region, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday.

“It is obvious that we must find a political solution to put an end to this crisis and this solution requires, in my opinion, the recognition of the Palestinian state,” the Socialist premier said during an interview with Spanish public television TVE.

“It is in Europe’s interest to address this issue out of moral conviction because what we are seeing in Gaza is not acceptable”, and also for “a geopolitical objective – to stabilise a region”, he added.

When he was sworn in for a new term this month, Sanchez said his foreign policy priority would be to “work in Europe and in Spain to recognise the Palestinian state”.

If there is no consensus among the EU’s 27 member states, Sanchez has said Madrid does not rule out unilaterally recognising a Palestinian state. A handful of smaller European countries have taken the step, mainly east European nations like Hungary, Poland and Romania that did so before they joined the EU. But until now no large member of the bloc has made the move, which would make Spain a pioneer.

Spain PM stands by Gaza comments that angered Israel

Spain’s parliament voted in 2014 in favour of a resolution calling for recognition of Palestine as a state.

The vote was non-binding, however, and there has been no follow up.

“The situation has changed,” Sanchez told TVE, adding that Arab nations did not understand the EU’s position.

“During all these years, we have seen how Israel systematically occupied Palestinian territory,” he added in a reference to Israeli settlement- building.

According to Amnesty International: “Israel’s policy of settling its civilians in occupied Palestinian territory and displacing the local population contravenes fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.”

Palestinians say the settlements jeopardise their goal of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel last week summoned Spain’s ambassador over criticisms Sanchez made of the Israeli offensive on Gaza during a visit to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Friday.

Israel accused Madrid of supporting “terrorism”.

“Friendly nations must tell the truth,” Sanchez said before recalling he had unequivocally condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians and soldiers.

“But we must tell Israel with the same conviction” that it must respect international law, he added.

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