Norway Hands Over Diplomatic Papers to Palestinian PM in Recognition of State

By Yoni Weiss

Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Mohammed Mustafa (L) speaks after receiving a document handed over by Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, in Brussels, Sunday. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Norway on Sunday handed over diplomatic papers to the Palestinian Prime Minister in the latest step toward recognizing a Palestinian state, a largely symbolic move that has infuriated Israel.

Ireland and Spain made a concerted pledge with Norway to recognize a Palestinian state, a historic move that increases Israel’s isolation more than seven months into its war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

The handover of papers by Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide to Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa took place in Brussels, where Mustafa is also meeting with foreign ministers of European Union nations and high-level EU officials on Monday to drum up support for the Palestinians. Norway itself is not part of the EU.

The diplomatic move by the three nations was a welcome boost of support for Palestinian officials who have sought for decades to establish statehood.

“Recognition means a lot for us. It is the most important thing that anybody can do for the Palestinian people,” said Mustafa. “It is a great deal for us.”

The formal recognition by Norway, Spain, and Ireland — which all have a record of friendly ties with both the Israelis and the Palestinians, while long advocating for a Palestinian state — is planned for Tuesday.

Some 140 countries — more than two-thirds of the United Nations — recognize a Palestinian state, but a majority of the 27 EU nations still do not. Several have said they would recognize it when the conditions are right.

The EU, the United States, and Britain, among others, back the idea of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel but say it should come as part of a negotiated settlement.

Belgium, which holds the EU presidency, has said that first the Israeli hostages held by Hamas need to be freed and the war in Gaza must end. Some other governments favor a new initiative toward a two-state solution, 15 years after negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed.

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