Israel's Netanyahu Says Palestinian State Recognition a 'Reward for Terror'

Oded Balilty / File photo by The AP
Oded Balilty / File photo by The AP
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Israel's Netanyahu Says Palestinian State Recognition a 'Reward for Terror'

Oded Balilty / File photo by The AP
Oded Balilty / File photo by The AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said the recognition of the State of Palestine by Spain, Ireland and Norway on Wednesday was a "reward for terror".

"The intention of several European countries to recognize a Palestinian state is a reward for terror," he said in a statement, adding a sovereign State of Palestine would be a "terror state" that would "try to repeatedly carry out the massacre of October 7th".

Also, the White House said Wednesday it opposed "unilateral recognition" of a Palestinian state.

President Joe Biden "has been on the record supporting a two-state solution," his national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, told reporters.

"He has been equally emphatic on the record that that two-state solution should be brought about through direct negotiations through the parties, not through unilateral recognition," he said, AFP reported.

He stopped short of criticizing the decision to formally recognize the State of Palestine by the three European countries, all close allies of the United States.

"Each country is entitled to make its own determinations, but the US position on this is clear," Sullivan said.

For his part, Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told Netanyahu that he wants to take retaliatory action including severing an arrangement in which Norway handles funds intended to the Palestinian Authority.

Under peace agreements brokered in part by Norway in the 1990s, Israel collects money for the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited autonomy in parts of the West Bank.

But Israel has blocked transfers since the aftermath of the October 7 attack.

Sullivan said that funds should keep going to the Palestinian Authority which the Biden administration wants to strengthen in hopes it can assume control of Gaza from Hamas.

"I think it's wrong on a strategic basis, because withholding funds destabilizes the West Bank," Sullivan said of Israeli moves to stop funds.

"It undermines the search for security and prosperity for the Palestinian people which is in Israel's interests, and, I think, it's wrong to withhold funds that provide basic goods and services to innocent people," he said.

Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been pushing Israel to move forward on a timeline for a Palestinian state, in part by dangling the prospect of Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Israel.

But Washington vetoed a recent UN Security Council bid to recognize the State of Palestine, saying that recognition could only come through negotiations that take into account Israel's security interests.



Hezbollah Fires New Barrage at Israel, Which Vows to Hit Back

Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
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Hezbollah Fires New Barrage at Israel, Which Vows to Hit Back

Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it fired a new wave of rockets and drones at the Israeli army on Thursday, after an Israeli strike killed one of its senior commanders, AFP reported.
It was Hezbollah’s largest simultaneous attack in near-daily cross-border fire between it and the Israeli army since its ally Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered the Gaza war.
Hezbollah fighters launched “an attack with rockets and drones, targeting six barracks and military sites” while simultaneously flying “squadrons of explosive-laden drones” at three other Israeli bases, the group said in a statement.
One of the targets included an Israeli base that Hezbollah said housed an intelligence headquarters “responsible for the assassinations.”
Hezbollah said the attacks were “part of the response to the assassination” of Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah on Tuesday.
The Israeli army said about “40 projectiles were launched toward the Galilee and Golan Heights area,” adding most were intercepted while others ignited fires.
The Israeli government vowed to respond strongly to all Hezbollah attacks.
“Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah,” government spokesman David Mencer said during a press briefing.
“Whether through diplomatic efforts or otherwise, Israel will restore security on our northern border,” he added.
In recent weeks, cross-border exchanges have escalated, with Hezbollah stepping up its use of drones to attack Israeli military positions and Israel hitting back with targeted strikes against the militants.
On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would “increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks,” while speaking at Abdallah’s funeral.
The Israeli army confirmed it carried out the strike that “eliminated” Abdallah on Tuesday, describing him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”
A Lebanese military source said he was the “most important” Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.
The cross-border violence has killed at least 468 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 89 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.