Norway, Ireland, and Spain announced Wednesday that they will formally recognize a Palestinian state, marking a significant diplomatic shift.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre emphasized the importance of maintaining hope for a political solution amid ongoing conflict. "In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike," Støre stated. "Two states, living side by side, in peace and security."

In Dublin, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris expressed a similar sentiment, hoping that recognizing Palestinian statehood would "offer hope and encouragement to the people of Palestine at one of their darkest hours."

In response, Israel ordered its ambassadors from Ireland and Norway to return immediately and announced plans to do the same for Spain. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz criticized the recognition, suggesting it would embolden terrorism and complicate efforts to secure the return of Israeli hostages held in Gaza. He argued that this decision rewards "the jihadists of Hamas and Iran" and makes a cease-fire less likely.

The recognition comes as the Israeli military expands its operations in Gaza, where local health officials report more than 35,000 deaths in seven months of conflict. Additionally, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor has announced plans to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, and others for alleged war crimes during the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Ireland had signaled its intention to recognize Palestinian statehood by the end of the month, despite strong opposition from Israel. In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), Israel's foreign ministry warned that such recognition could lead to increased terrorism and regional instability, jeopardizing peace prospects.

Prior to this development, more than 140 of the 193 United Nations member states recognized Palestinian statehood, though no Group of Seven nations were among them. U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed support for a two-state solution but has not formally recognized a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has argued that recognizing Palestinian statehood, especially in the wake of Hamas' October 7 attacks that killed around 1,200 people and resulted in 250 hostages, would effectively reward Hamas. Photo by  Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages, Wikimedia commons.