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Israel's Smotrich calls for retaliation against Palestinian Authority over state recognition

Far-right minister advocates settlement construction in occupied West Bank and financial penalties against Palestinian officials
The leader of Israel's Religious Zionist party Bezalel Smotrich (R) attends the funeral of Israeli Orthodox Jewish rabbi Haim Drukman, a spiritual leader of the nationalist Religious Orthodox Jewish movement, at Merkaz Shapira near Kiryat Malachi on 26 December 2022 (Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has called for financial penalties against Palestinian officials as well as more settlement construction in the occupied West Bank in retaliation for countries recognising a Palestinian state.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), the far-right minister said he had contacted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outlined six "immediate" steps that should be taken to target the Palestinian Authority (PA) after Spain, Norway and Ireland agreed to recognise Palestine on Wednesday.

Among the steps he mentioned were "cancelling all the VIP permits of the senior PA officials permanently in all transitions and imposing additional financial sanctions on PA senior officials and their families" as well as the approval of "10,000 housing units" in the occupied West Bank.

"I would like to inform you that I have instructed the Settlement Directorate to prepare a decision-making text with three strategic settlements and I demand that such a decision be approved as soon as tomorrow," he wrote.

Spain, Ireland and Norway announced their intention to recognise the state of Palestine on Wednesday.

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"Today, Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognise the state of Palestine," Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said at a news conference, adding that other countries are expected to join the trio in the coming weeks.

In response, Israel's foreign ministry said it ordered an immediate recall of its ambassadors to Ireland and Norway.

Israel in November recalled its ambassador to Spain after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez accused it of violating international humanitarian law in its war on Gaza.

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Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas welcomed the decision of the three European countries to recognise Palestine. 

Hossam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, said the decision was a step closer to justice and peace. 

"History is being made. Thank you Ireland, Norway and Spain for recognising our inalienable right to self-determination and our distinct national identity," he wrote on X.

"This will move us closer to justice and a sustainable peace. We urge the few remaining countries in the world, especially the UK, with its historic responsibility, to follow suit and provide a long overdue path out from occupation, colonisation, oppression and apartheid, to equality under law and accountability."

Hamas said the recognition was an "important step on the path of affirming our right to our land and an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital". 

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