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MADRID: Spain, Ireland and other European Union member countries plan to recognise a Palestinian state on May 21, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said late on Thursday ahead of an expected UN vote on Friday on a Palestinian bid to become a full member.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in March that Spain and Ireland, along with Slovenia and Malta, had agreed to take the first steps towards recognition of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, seeing a two-state solution as essential for lasting peace.

Asked on local Spanish radio station RNE if May 21 was when Spain, Ireland and other EU countries would recognise a Palestinian state, Borrell said yes, mentioning Slovenia as well.

“This is a symbolic act of a political nature. More than a state, it recognises the will for that state to exist,” he said, adding that Belgium and other countries would probably follow. Previously, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares had said the decision on recognition had been made, although he did not give a date. International calls for a ceasefire and permanent end to Palestinian-Israeli conflict have grown along with the death toll from Israel’s offensive in Gaza to rout out Hamas after the group deadly cross-border attack on Oct. 7.

Israel has said plans for Palestinian recognition constitute a “prize for terrorism” that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the Gaza conflict. On Friday the United Nations General Assembly is set to back a Palestinian bid to become a full UN member by recognising it as qualified to join and sending the application back to the UN Security Council to “reconsider the matter favourably.”

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