Norway, Ireland and Spain say they will recognize a Palestinian state, angering Israel. What does this mean?

The historic but largely symbolic move comes amid growing international outrage over reports of mounting civilian deaths in Gaza.

Smoke billows after an explosion from an airstrike in the Gaza Strip.
Smoke billows after an explosion from an airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel Tuesday. (Leo Correa/AP)

This is a breaking news explainer from Yahoo News.

Norway, Ireland and Spain will soon recognize Palestine as a state, their leaders said Wednesday, in a move that angered Israel amid growing international outrage over the mounting civilian deaths in Gaza from Israel's war against Hamas. According to Gaza’s health ministry, more than 35,000 people have been killed since the war began, though that figure does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

People search the rubble following an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in Gaza.
People search the rubble following an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in Gaza on May 19. (Ismael Abu Dayyah/AP)

Of the 193 United Nations member countries, 140, or more than two-thirds, already recognize a Palestinian state — but none of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) do.

The U.S. and U.K. have previously backed the idea of an independent Palestinian state but say it should come as part of a negotiated settlement with Israel.

Israel immediately recalled its ambassadors to the three countries — and accused the European nations of rewarding Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war. Approximately 1,200 people were killed and about 250 others taken hostage that day, according to Israeli officials.

“History will remember that Spain, Norway and Ireland decided to award a gold medal to Hamas murderers and rapists,” Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz said Wednesday.

Palestinian supporters in Spain attend a demonstration against Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Palestinian supporters attend a demonstration against Israeli attacks on Gaza in Pamplona, Spain, on May 18. (Alvaro Barrientos/AP)

In their announcement, the leaders of Norway, Ireland and Spain insisted that their recognition of a Palestinian state had nothing to do with Hamas.

“This recognition is not against Israel, is not against the Jews,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said. “It is an act in favor of peace, justice and moral consistency.”

“Recognizing the state of Palestine sends a message that there’s a viable alternative to the nihilism of Hamas,” Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said at a press conference in Dublin. “Hamas has nothing to offer but pain and suffering to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said that he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for war crimes over Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza. The International Court of Justice said this week it was considering allegations of genocide against Israel.

President Biden blasted the ICC for the move. “We reject the ICC's application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders,” Biden said Monday. “Whatever these warrants may imply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.”

“Contrary to allegations against Israel,” he added, “what's happening is not genocide.”

Norway, Ireland and Spain will formally recognize Palestine as a state on May 28. But Israel — which has controlled the territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip since seizing them in the 1967 Mideast war — has not agreed to a two-state solution.

Still, the recognition marks a “historic but largely symbolic move that deepens Israel’s isolation more than seven months into its grinding war against Hamas,” the Associated Press said.

And it will likely put pressure on other countries to recognize a Palestinian state. Irish Prime Minister Harris predicted that other countries might join “in the weeks ahead.”