“Why do we convey an image of greater division than exists, when we agree on the fundamental elements?” The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, asked himself this question at the press conference after the first meeting with his counterparts from Med9, the coalition of Mediterranean countries in which Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia and Croatia, and after addressing the Gaza conflict as the main topic of the day.

The ministers of Italy, France and Cyprus were missing from the inter-ministerial meeting, and they sent other members of their cabinets. Although advancing in unity on the Israel-Gaza conflict was the objective, on October 27 it became clear that the nine countries are not going in the same direction. That day, the resolution on Gaza proposed by Jordan was voted on in the United Nations General Assembly. Croatia voted against while Cyprus, Italy and Greece opted to abstain. The rest were in favor.

Despite these discordant voices, which Albares recognizes shows an “apparent division,” the minister has opined that “the fundamental elements regarding the solution [to the conflict] are common to the 27.” The European Union has a single voice in matters of Foreign Affairs, which is that of Josep Borrell and, as Ian Borg, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, present at the press conference, recalled: “Europe is increasingly aligned”, has reflected.

According to Albares, during the meeting “there was a consensus that what we had to do is that those of us who support the recognition of the Palestinian State have to come together and speak in an intelligent way, so that this favors peace in the Middle East.” The Foreign Minister recalled that Spain was the country that spoke of the need for “a peace conference that would lead to the materialization of these two states, a State of Palestine and one of Israel” and that now that formula has been made the European Union itself, “and it is beginning to be that of the Arab league,” he assured.

Regarding the deadlines for this conference to take place, Albares has recognized that it is very important for Israel and Palestine to sit down, and that at this moment the conditions do not exist. However, he has insisted on the importance of “pressing” for “a solution of two states living together”, and that now we must convey that “we cannot resign ourselves to the daily life of Palestinians and Israelis every x years being this unbearable horror that we are seeing. The peace conference has to be the end of that and the beginning of a viable Palestinian state.”

Spain wants to lead the peace conference initiative and that is why Sánchez has begun his mandate with a trip to Israel, Palestine and Egypt. The President of the Government wants to take advantage of his stay in the territory to advance the recognition that the Executive wants to make of the Palestinian state and which was the first announcement of Sánchez’s investiture speech. Despite the work of diplomacy and the Spanish position, condemning the Hamas attack but at the same time asking for a ceasefire, Sánchez has two people in his Executive who have not condemned Hamas. According to Albares, this does not undermine the leadership to which Spain aspires, because “our main partners know the Spanish position”, despite the discordant voices within the Government.