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Rafah strikes could 'hinder' Gaza truce talks: Qatar mediator

Israel orders Spain to stop consular services for Palestinians from June 1

By AFP

May 27, 2024 03:41 PM


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Israel's latest strikes on a displaced people's camp near Gaza's southern city of Rafah could hinder talks towards a truce and hostage release deal, mediator nation Qatar said on Monday.

The foreign ministry voiced "concern that the bombing will complicate ongoing mediation efforts and hinder reaching an agreement for an immediate and permanent ceasefire".

Qatar, alongside the United States and Egypt, has been engaged in months of talks aimed at securing a truce deal between Israel and Hamas in the devastated Gaza Strip.

But behind-the-scenes negotiations reached a stalemate earlier this month as Israel sent ground forces into Rafah.

Qatar, which has hosted Hamas's political leadership since 2012 with the blessing of the United States, condemned the Israeli bombing as a "dangerous violation of international law".

The foreign ministry called on the international community to act urgently to prevent Israel from "implementing its plans to forcibly displace (Palestinians) from the city, which has become a final refuge for hundreds of thousands" of people.

Saudi Arabia said it condemned "in the strongest terms the continued massacres committed by Israeli occupation forces".

In a statement, the Saudi foreign ministry called on the international community "to intervene immediately to halt the massacres" committed by the Israeli military.

Kuwait's foreign ministry also decried the Israeli attack on the camp housing displaced Palestinians near Rafah, saying it exposed Israel's  "blatant war crimes and unprecedented genocide to the whole world".

The Gulf monarchy called for "immediate and firm intervention by the international community".

Israel orders Spain to stop consular services for Palestinians

Israel said Monday it had told Spain's consulate in Jerusalem to stop offering consular services to Palestinians from June 1, as a "punitive" measure for Madrid's recognition of a Palestinian state.

The foreign ministry said that Spain's consulate in Jerusalem is "authorised to provide consular services to residents of the consular district of Jerusalem only, and is not authorised to provide services or perform consular activity vis-a-vis residents of the Palestinian Authority".

The directive is effective from June 1, the ministry said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a separate statement that "today, I implemented preliminary punitive measures against the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem following the Spanish government's recognition of a Palestinian state".

"We will not put up with harming Israel's sovereignty and security."

"Whoever gives an award to Hamas and tries to establish a Palestinian terrorist state will not be in contact with the Palestinians," Katz said.

Spain is one of the European countries that has been most critical of Israel over the war in Gaza.

Last week, Spain, Ireland and Norway announced their decision to recognise the State of Palestine from Tuesday, May 28, drawing a strong rebuke from Israel.

On Sunday, Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares justified his government's decision to recognise a Palestinian state.

He said in Brussels that the recognition "is justice for the Palestinian people (and) the best guarantee of security for Israel".

On Sunday, the European Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also hosted Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa for international talks on building up the Palestinian Authority of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to eventually take over Gaza rule from Hamas.

A "strong" Palestinian Authority is needed to bring peace in the Middle East, Borrell said just before going into the meeting with Mustafa.

On Saturday, Spain had also demanded that Israel comply with an order by the top UN court to immediately stop its bombardment and ground assault on the Gazan city of Rafah.

In a case brought by South Africa alleging the Israeli assault on Gaza amounts to "genocide", the International Court of Justice ordered Israel on Friday to "immediately halt" the ground and air offensive in Rafah.

 


AFP


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