Spain says its Jerusalem consulate existed 'long before Israel'

Spain says its Jerusalem consulate existed 'long before Israel'
The FM said Spain consulate has existed for longer than the Israeli state was established, in response to Israeli provocations on the diplomatic mission.
3 min read
05 June, 2024
Albares' comments come as Spain recognised the state of Palestine last week [Getty/file photo]

Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares stated that his country's consulate in Jerusalem has existed "long before an Israeli state was created" in response to Israeli threats to close it following Madrid's recognition of Palestine last week.

Speaking from the Spanish capital on Monday, Albares said that the consulate in Jerusalem had a "very particular and historical status", having been in operation since the 1850s.

He also affirmed that his country was not going to "fall for Israel’s provocations" and had rejected "any obstruction to normal work" in the diplomatic mission.

The Spanish top diplomat also said that Israel and Madrid had maintained ties since 1986, and the country was obliged to "recognise and to respect this historical status of the consulate general" in Jerusalem.

"We have issued a verbal note to the government of Israel that we reject any obstruction to the fair work of this consulate," Albares warned.

"Spain is committed to respecting all consulates in its territory, and the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem has a very special character," he added.

Israel was founded in 1948, following the ethnic cleansing, displacement and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, in an event called the Nakba, or catastrophe in Arabic.

Spain's landmark decision to recognise a Palestinian state last week was praised by Palestinians and several Arab states.

Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s Prime Minister, said the decision was "not only a matter of historic justice" it was also "an essential requirement if we are all to achieve peace".

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The decision to recognise a Palestinian state provoked the anger of several Israeli officials, notably Albares’ counterpart, Israel Katz.

The Israel FM, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, said that "any connection between the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem and individuals in the Palestinian Authority poses a threat to Israel’s national security and will be completely prohibited". Albares rejected the allegations.

Katz, Israel’s foreign minister since the start of the year, posted several attacks against the Spanish government on his social media pages in response to the decision.

Last week, the FM ordered the Spanish consulate to stop offering consular services to Palestinians in the West Bank from June 1, as a "punitive" measure for Madrid’s recognition of a Palestinian state.

Katz also threatened to close the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem if it continued to provide services to Palestinians.

In May, Albares told broadcaster Onda Cero that in restricting the consulate, the Israeli government was violating international law and the Vienna Convention. "Israel cannot change that unilaterally," he said.

Spain, as well as Norway and Ireland, moved to recognise the state of Palestine as the Gaza Strip continues to be subject to Israel's brutal military onslaught, ongoing for almost eight months.

Israel's war in Gaza has killed at least 36,500 Palestinians since October 7, mostly women and children.