update deskIsrael at War

Spain’s Ramallah embassy plan stalls as diplomats unwilling to relocate

Spanish diplomats based in Israel have refused to relocate to the P.A. city, citing safety and convenience concerns, according to Spanish media.

A pro-Palestinian rally in Barcelona, Spain, on Jan. 7, 2024. Credit: Aniol via Wikimedia Commons.
A pro-Palestinian rally in Barcelona, Spain, on Jan. 7, 2024. Credit: Aniol via Wikimedia Commons.

The Spanish government’s plan to open an embassy in Ramallah has hit a snag as Spanish diplomats based in Israel are refusing to move to the city, according to Spanish media.

The diplomats, currently located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, cited safety and quality of life concerns, according to Spanish news site OKDiario.

Two weeks ago, the Spanish government recognized “Palestine” as a state, along with Ireland and Norway. In response, Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz sent a letter last week to the Spanish authorities forbidding Madrid’s consulate in Jerusalem from providing services to residents of the Palestinian Authority.

OKDiario quoted sources in the Spanish Foreign Ministry as saying, “It is absurd to recognize Palestine and not open an embassy that certifies it.”

However, with the diplomats already in Israel unwilling to make the move to Ramallah, Madrid will need to send diplomats from Spain or pull them from other embassies, which according to the article would be too costly for the Spanish Foreign Ministry.

With no embassy in Ramallah and consular services no longer available in Jerusalem, P.A. citizens will now have no choice but to travel to Tel Aviv or Amman, Jordan to receive service from a Spanish consulate.

According to La Moncloa, the official Spanish government website, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares rebuffed the threat by Katz and said that the Spanish government would issue a coordinated response together with Ireland and Norway, who were also receiving backlash from Israel. 

Albares was quoted as saying, “We will give a coordinated, calm, and firm response.”

Albares said his ministry was studying the threat made by Katz, adding, “There are certain privileges and immunities that Spain scrupulously respects with all the countries of the world, with their embassies and consulates, and we demand the same respect on the basis of international law.”

In April, German Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Oliver Owcza was attacked by a mob over his country’s support for Israel.

Video circulated on social media shows students chasing the envoy out of the Palestinian Museum on the campus of Birzeit University, located about six miles north of Ramallah.

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