Spain, Turkey call on international community to stop Gaza war

MADRID — Spain and Turkey called on the international community Thursday to stop “looking the other way” and press for the end of Israel’s attack on Gaza to crush Hamas, following a bilateral summit focused on strengthening economic cooperation between the Mediterranean countries.

“For too long the international community has looked the other way (…), it has thought that without resolving this conflict we could live in peace and stability. What has happened during these eight months has opened the eyes of the world,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at a news conference after the eighth high-level meeting between the governments of Madrid and Ankara.

Spain, Ireland and Norway formally recognized a Palestinian state on May 28 in a coordinated effort, while Turkey first recognized a Palestinian state in 1988. Sánchez urged other European and Western countries to follow in their footsteps “because it is the only solution that can guarantee peace and security in the Middle East.”

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council overwhelmingly approved its first resolution endorsing a cease-fire plan put forward by U.S. President Joe Biden aimed at ending the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Neither Hamas nor Israel has fully embraced the cease-fire proposal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the U.S. and the other Security Council members to lobby Israel.

“The Security Council members, especially the United States, should stand behind this decision and put the necessary pressure on Israel to ensure an immediate cease-fire,” Erdogan said.

The war in Gaza has killed over 37,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian health officials, who do not give the breakdown of civilians and fighters. Israel launched its campaign after Hamas and other militants stormed into its territory on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 hostages. Hamas is believed to be holding around 80 hostagesand the remains of another 40.

Spain and Turkey, both NATO members, reiterated their calls for a halt in the fighting in Gaza and called for more humanitarian aid for Palestinians. Sánchez also demanded the release of the hostages.

More than 140 countries have recognized a Palestinian state, but the list does not include any of the major Western powers, including the United States, which has been Israel’s principal ally.

In a show of its support for peacemaking efforts in Gaza, Spain last week asked a United Nations court for permission to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza.

The main goal of the Madrid summit was to strengthen trade between the two Mediterranean nations. The two leaders signed a memorandum to boost commerce between their countries to 25 billion euros ($27 billion) in trade, up from the 20 billion euros ($21.5 billion) that Sánchez forecast for the end of the year, an increase of almost 50% since 2018.

AP journalists Suzan Fraser in Ankara and Joseph Wilson in Barcelona contributed to this report.

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