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Spanish Deputy PM declares ‘Palestine will be free’, uses antisemitic slogan

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“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” declared the second Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, Yolanda Diaz, drawing accusations of antisemitism from Israel and Jewish groups. The Spanish politician made the controversial statement in a video published on X following her country’s decision to recognise Palestine as a state on Wednesday.

“From the river to the sea,” which references the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, is viewed by many as antisemitic as it promotes a reality in which Israel does not exist as a Jewish homeland, leading some to see it as a call for ethnic cleansing or genocide against Israel’s Jews.

Diaz accused Israel of ‘’barbarism’’ and called for the European Union to be pressured “to end its agreements and treaties with Israel.”

Díaz, who is Labor and Economy Minister, is a member of the extreme-left Sumar party which is a coalition partner of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE).

The Israeli embassy in Madrid and the Federation of Spanish Jewish Communities condemn Diaz for her statements. On X, the embassy wrote that it “completely rejects Yolanda Díaz’s statements.”

The slogan “is a clear call for the destruction of Israel, fomenting hate and violence. Antisemitic statements are incompatible with a democratic society and it is unacceptable coming from a deputy prime minister. We hope Spain will live up to its promise” to fight antisemitism, the embassy said.

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In a statement, the Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA), which is representing hundreds of Jewish communities across Europe, slammed  Spanish minister Diaz for ‘’openly calling for the genocide of the world’s only Jewish State, Israel.’’

“This cannot and must not stand. We immediately call on (EU foreign policy chief) Josep Borrell to condemn this. EU Member States have obligations under the treaties not to call for the annihilation of third countries,’’ the EJA stated.

“We immediately call for Prime Minister Sanchez to distance the Spanish Government from these genocidal remarks,’’ it added.

“The Vice-President’s from the river to the sea call carries with it echoes of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Spain in 1492, not to mention the thousands burned alive in auto-da-fe’s. Her statement is also an endorsement of Hamas’ ideology.’’

When he announced his country’s recognition of a ‘’state of Palestine,’’ Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that “Spain will be accompanied by other European countries. The more there are of us, the sooner we will achieve a ceasefire. We are not going to give up.’’

Israel recalled its ambassadors to Spain, Ireland and Norway on Wednesday after the three countries declared they would recognise Palestine as a state.

“Today’s decision sends a message to the Palestinians and the world: Terrorism pays. After the Hamas terror organisation carried out the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, after committing heinous sexual crimes witnessed by the world, these countries chose to reward Hamas and Iran by recognising a Palestinian state,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said.

Katz later said he issued a “severe démarche for the ambassadors of Spain, Ireland, and Norway in Israel following their governments’ decision to award a gold medal to Hamas terrorists who kidnapped our daughters and burned infants. During the démarche, the ambassadors will watch a video of the brutal and cruel kidnapping of our daughters by Hamas terrorists, to emphasise the distorted decision their governments have made.”

According to ACOM, the largest pro-Israel advocacy group in Spain, ‘’the recognition of a Palestinian state that does not exist, the creation by his will alone of a fiction, a parallel reality, is the latest ploy by Pedro Sanchez to confuse public opinion and distract it from the rampant corruption problems of his government.’’

It said that ‘’this will take Spain’s reputation with it, that it will have lasting implications for our role in the concert of Western democracies, that it will separate us from the majority position of the main EU countries, matters nothing to a demagogic president with banana tics”.

‘’He evidently rewards terrorists who committed an unspeakable massacre (and who do not seek their own state, but rather the destruction of the only Jewish state), appeals to adolescent simplifications as a solution to a complex conflict with geostrategic ramifications. And that he does so precisely when Israel, our Western ally in the region, is fighting a defensive war of survival against terrorist attacks and Iran, illustrates the moral caliber of this individual,’’ said ACOM in a statement.

”Sanchez has announced this recognition against the explicit and overwhelmingly majority will of the nation’s parliament, which, ten years ago, the last time it was consulted on the matter, voted that any such recognition should be based on direct negotiation between the parties, within the context of an internationally sponsored process, and ensuring Israel’s security -something impossible at the present time”.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote on X: “I take note of today’s announcement by 2 EU Member States -Ireland and Spain- and by Norway on the recognition of the State of Palestine”.

“Within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, I will relentlessly work with all Member States to promote a common EU position based on a 2-state solution” he added.

The 27 EU member states are set to meet Monday in Brussels to discuss the Israel-Hamas war and its implications in the region.

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