Israel threatens to close the Spanish Consulate in Jerusalem if it maintains relations with the Palestinians | Spain

EL PAÍS

The Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel Katz, threatened this Friday to close the Consulate General of Spain in Jerusalem if it does not comply with the order to suspend, starting tomorrow, Saturday, any contact with the representatives of the Palestinian population, after rejecting the demand from the Spanish Government to lift these restrictions. “Any connection between the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem and people from the Palestinian Authority poses a threat to the national security of Israel and will be completely prohibited,” the head of Israeli diplomacy wrote on the social network X. “We will strictly apply these guidelines: If violations occur, additional measures will be taken, including the closure of the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem,” he added.

Katz’s words represent a serious escalation in the diplomatic crisis with Israel that opened after the recognition of the Palestinian State by Spain on May 28. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, who this morning presented a formal protest against the threat, has been blunt about the Israeli warning against the diplomatic legation. “The Vienna conventions on diplomatic and consular relations bind us to all States on the planet, they are mandatory and Spain applies and respects them scrupulously; We demand that same respect,” said the head of Spanish diplomacy in Prague, where he participated in a meeting of NATO ministers. “Spain does not make politics with a tweet. We are not going to fall into any type of provocation, nor do we want to fuel any escalation, but they are not going to intimidate us either,” Albares stressed.

Minister Katz has raised the tone in recent days against Spain, which has led a group of European countries that have recognized the State of Palestine. This Friday, the Israeli has involved, mentioning in his threatening comment to the Spanish consulate published on social networks, the head of the opposition, Alberto Núñez Feijóo and the president of the far-right Vox party, Santiago Abascal, who met a few days ago in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The fact that my colleague [Katz] Tag Mr. Feijóo and Mr. Abascal means that you are directly questioning them, and I do it too, it is time to speak out: [Feijóo y Abascal] They have to choose to be on the side of the Spanish institutions, on the side of Spanish diplomacy and the function of the Consulate General in Jerusalem and the work it does – also on the Obra Pía in the Holy Land – or they prefer to be outside international law and with what is a flagrant attack on our institutions,” Albares stressed in comments to EL PAÍS and Efe.

Last Monday, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the Spanish Embassy in Tel Aviv in which it was informed that, as of June 1, the Spanish Consulate could only provide services to residents in the consular district of Jerusalem. , but, in no case, to those who reside in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, with the sole exception of Spanish citizens. This Friday he warned that “Israel will strictly monitor compliance with the instructions” and “will take new measures, including the closure of the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem”, if it finds “new violations.” To justify this threat, he appeals to the “seriousness of the anti-Semitic statements of senior officials of the Spanish Government and the clear call for the destruction of the State of Israel and the promotion of a Palestinian State in its place between the sea and Jordan.” It refers to the slogan “liberate Palestine from the river to the sea” (from the Jordan to the Mediterranean) that Second Vice President Yolanda Díaz used at a rally and that Israel interprets as the denial of its right to exist.

Katz’s threat has been the response to Spain’s formal protest over the obstacles imposed on the operation of the Consulate General of Spain in Jerusalem. Spain does not want to get involved in a dialectical escalation, and even less so in social networks, with Israel, but has warned that diplomatic relations are based on reciprocity, which could result in Spain placing similar restrictions on Israel’s consular activity in Spain. “We are not afraid, we will be totally firm in defending the normal functioning of the Consulate General in Jerusalem, which began its work in the 19th century.

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Historical consulate

The threat of closure of the Consulate General of Spain in Jerusalem is especially serious because it is a historic consulate, founded by Queen Elizabeth II in 1853, almost a century before the founding of the State of Israel, which is why it has been in operation. under the Ottoman Empire and British rule. In addition to providing consular attention to residents in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, it manages Spanish cooperation and administers the Obra Pía, the heritage of the Spanish State in Palestine. It is in charge of relations with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), which is why it has functioned as an unofficial embassy to the Government of Ramallah, a role that takes on an official dimension after the recognition of the Palestinian State by Spain. The consul general, Alfonso Lucini, is a diplomat with long experience who has been ambassador to Italy or Greece.

Foreign Affairs has presented its protest after commissioning a study from the ministry’s International Legal Department that concludes that the measures adopted by Israel violate the Vienna conventions on diplomatic relations (1961) and consular relations (1964), which guarantee the privileges and immunities of diplomatic personnel. and consular accredited in another country.

The verbal note sent this Friday to the Israeli authorities is independent of the diplomatic protest that Spain is preparing in response to the insults expressed by Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who accused President Pedro Sánchez of “complicit in inciting the murder of the Jewish people.” and “war crimes” for recognizing the Palestinian state and not removing Vice President Yolanda Díaz, who called for “liberating Palestine from the river to the sea” (a motto that Israel interprets as the denial of its right to exist). Katz also released a video that alternated images of flamenco dancing with images of Hamas crimes.

Albares announced last Tuesday that Spain would give a “calm, firm and concerted” response with Norway and Ireland, which have also recognized the Palestinian State and have been the subject of criticism from Israel, to the “despicable hoaxes” and “infamous attacks.” ” launched by the Netanyahu Government, but assured that it would do so “at the right time, without falling into provocations.”

Albares has revealed that on Thursday he spoke with his Norwegian and Irish counterparts about “the joint communication” that the three countries are going to make “with respect to all those falsehoods and slander that have been poured towards our three governments during these days.”

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