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Which countries recognize a state of Palestine, and what is changing?

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Paris — Israel's more than seven-month war in Gaza since the October 7 attack has revived a global push for Palestinians to be given a state of their own. Norway, Spain and Ireland all announced plans on Wednesday to recognize a state of Palestine, breaking with the long-held position of Western powers that a Palestinian state can only come as part of a negotiated peace with Israel.

According to the Palestinian Authority, which has limited powers in parts of the occupied West Bank, 142 of the 193 member countries of the United Nations already recognize a state of Palestine. They include many Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries, but not the United States, Canada, most of western Europe, Australia, Japan or South Korea.

In April, the United States used its veto at the United Nations Security Council to prevent a Palestinian bid to become a full U.N. member state.

Flag Waving
A Palestinian demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag during a protest against the separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, in a Nov. 6, 2009 file photo. AP/Bernat Armangue

Below is a look back at the Palestinians' quest for statehood, and which countries already recognize a state of Palestine:

A Palestinian declaration, and early recognitions

On November 15, 1988, during the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unilaterally proclaimed an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

He made the announcement in Algiers, at a meeting of the exiled Palestinian National Council, which adopted the two-state solution as a goal, with independent Israeli and Palestinian states existing side by side.

Minutes later, Algeria became the first country to officially recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Within weeks, dozens of other countries, including much of the Arab world, India, Turkey, most of Africa and several central and eastern European countries had followed suit.

The next wave of recognitions came in late 2010 and early 2011, at a time of crisis in the Middle East peace process. A host of South American countries including Argentina, Brazil and Chile answered calls by the Palestinians to endorse their statehood claims.

This came in response to Israel's decision to end a temporary ban on Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

UNESCO recognizes Palestine, to the ire of U.S. and Israel

In 2011, with peace talks at a standstill, the Palestinians decided to push ahead with a campaign for full U.N. membership for a State of Palestine.

The quest failed but, in a groundbreaking move on October 31 of that year, the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO voted to accept the Palestinians as a full member.

The decision triggered a furious reaction from Israel and the United States, which suspended their funding of the Paris-based body.

They quit UNESCO outright in 2018, although the U.S. rejoined in 2023.

In September 2015, the Palestinian flag was raised for the first time at the United Nations in New York after the General Assembly, several years earlier, voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to "non-member observer state."

Hundreds of people turn up for the ceremony to raise the
Hundreds of people are seen attending a ceremony to raise the flag of the State of Palestine for the first time at U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 30, 2015. Luiz Rampelotto/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty

Three years later, the International Criminal Court also accepted Palestine as a state party. The ICC's chief prosecutor announced Tuesday that he was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister, along with three of Hamas' top leaders, over suspected war crimes committed on Oct. 7 and since in Israel and Gaza.

Sweden breaks from the pack

In 2014, Sweden, which has a large Palestinian community, became the first EU member in western Europe to recognize a Palestinian state.

The move followed months of almost daily clashes in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

A state of Palestine had earlier been recognized by six other European countries - Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

Israel reacted angrily to Stockholm's move, with then foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman telling the Swedes that "relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA."

Gaza war boosts Palestinian statehood backing

Israel's relentless offensive in Gaza, which has left at least 35,647 people dead, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry, in retaliation for Hamas' killing of more than 1,170 people in Israel on Oct. 7, has revived support in Europe for Palestinian statehood.

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Norway, Spain and Ireland have said they will recognize a Palestinian state by May 28, defying threats from Israel, which recalled its envoys from Ireland and Norway for discussions over the move.

Malta and Slovenia in March also expressed "readiness to recognize Palestine" when "the circumstances are right."

Australia has also recently floated the possibility of unilaterally endorsing Palestinian statehood.

President Emmanuel Macron has also said the question of recognizing a Palestinian state without a negotiated peace is no longer "a taboo for France."

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