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Palestinian minister hails European countries' state recognition

Palestinian health minister Maged Abu Ramadan was in Geneva for the annual World Health Assembly
— Geneva (AFP)

The move by Spain, Ireland and Norway to recognise the State of Palestine will give a major boost to the cause, the Palestinian Authority's health minister said Wednesday, urging other European countries to follow suit.

Maged Abu Ramadan thanked the three countries, their people and their governments for their "courageous decision", saying it would have a "great political, positive input on the case of Palestine, wherever it will be discussed".

The minister was in Geneva for the World Health Assembly, where the dire humanitarian and health conditions in the Gaza Strip were being discussed on Wednesday.

The assembly is the World Health Organization's main annual meeting, which sets the agenda for the UN health agency.

"I will urge all other European countries to follow these courageous steps," Abu Ramadan told the UN correspondents' association.

"It helps not only defend the Palestinians, but also the whole world, because it says there is still hope, and we should stick to it."

A former Gaza City mayor, Abu Ramadan called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war.

As for the closed Rafah crossing from Egypt into the besieged Palestinian territory, Abu Ramadan said he expected the international community, and especially the United States, "to press hard in order to open that".

The crossing, through which much of the aid entering the coastal strip came, was closed by the Israeli armed forces on May 7.

"We have no indication that the Israelis would like it to open any (time) soon," the minister said.

"However, it's very necessary... for the supplies and for the teams and other equipment -- and so far, that complicates the situation and makes it really very, very catastrophic."

He also regretted that tonnes of food had perished in hot trucks while waiting to get into the Gaza Strip because of the Israeli authorities' painstaking checkpoint process.

The Gaza war was sparked by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,189 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed more than 36,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the territory's health ministry.