One of the central issues that will presumably accompany the upcoming visit to Israel by the foreign minister of Spain, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil, will be the minister’s curious, unprecedented and most irregular decision, dated March 14, 2013, as published in Spain’s official governmental publication, to open a Spanish consulate in Gaza, accredited to the Hamas administration.
Whichever senior ministerial figure is tasked with receiving him, whether it be Minister for International Relations Yuval Steinitz or Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, it would be highly advisable to point out the utter lack of political wisdom in the decision to open a consulate in Gaza, as well as the legally questionable nature of such a decision.
Opening a consulate in Gaza is incompatible with the provisions of the 1995 Israeli- Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (commonly known as “Oslo II”) under which the Palestinians are committed not to exercise powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, and specifically not to permit the establishment of diplomatic or consular posts in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, or the appointment or admission of diplomatic or consular staff.
In opening a consulate in Gaza, Spain would in fact be generating, and contributing to a blatant violation of the Interim Agreement, in contravention of the EU’s status as signatory and witness to the agreement.
In light of the fact that the Gaza Strip, since 2006, has been taken over by the Hamas terror organization, which has usurped the Palestinian Authority as the governing body and established its own separate Islamic fundamentalist administration, clearly the opening by Spain of a consulate in Gaza would be interpreted by the Hamas administration, and seen universally, as a formal act of diplomatic recognition of Hamas by Spain. It would be interpreted by the PA as an action violating its own status and basic interests.
Furthermore, such an action would be incompatible with the EU designation of Hamas as a terror organization, and would thereby place Spain in direct contravention of EU directives.
As to the political wisdom of such a decision by Spain’s foreign minister, and the potential repercussions within Spain, the distinguished visitor might consider recent expressions by Hamas bodies calling for Spain to be returned to Muslim rule as “Al Andalus,” and calling for acts of martyrdom, suicide bombings and resistance as the way to achieve this.
Similarly, in an interview which aired on May 25, 2012, on the official governmental television channel of the Hamas regime in Gaza, Al- Aqsa TV, Dr. Subhi al-Yaziji, dean of Koranic studies at the Islamic University of Gaza established by Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, and described in Hamas media (Al Ahrar) to be a senior member of Hamas, stated: “The conquest of Andalusia is an old dream, something Muslims proudly hope for and will continue to hope for in the future.”
Unquestionably, the decision of Spain’s Foreign minister to establish a consulate would be seen as an act that legitimizes Hamas and its violent ideology. In view of all the above, it would be highly advisable for Spain’s foreign minister to reconsider his decision.
The author is the former legal adviser to Israel’s foreign ministry and former ambassador to Canada. He presently serves as director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.