On Saturday, Israel defied an order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to immediately halt its military offensive in the Rafah Governorate in Gaza. Times of Israel (TOI) reported that despite the ICJ ruling, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried on with their military operations in Rafah, killing Hamas gunmen and destroying tunnels dug by the militant group.

Spain has demanded that Israel comply with the ICJ’s order as it was “legally binding.”

The ICJ’s President, Nawaf Salam, had said on Saturday that since the provisional measures ordered by the court in March did not fully address the situation in the besieged Rafah enclave, there arose a need for an emergency order.

Salam said that conditions in Rafah were “disastrous”.

South Africa, which had taken the matter to the ICJ, had asked for emergency measures to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people.

Thirteen of the 15 ICJ judges agreed to call on Israel to halt its assault.

In a separate story Times of Israel (TOI) reported that Israel, the United States and Qatar have agreed to renew talks on a hostage deal and truce with Hamas. No talks took place after April.

TOI further said that the fresh negotiations will be on the basis of a new outline negotiated in Paris by CIA Director William Burns, Mossad chief David Barnea, and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

In line with this, the Israeli war cabinet expanded the mandate of the team negotiating a deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Earlier, Israel had said that direct negotiations between it and Hamas were not possible. It insisted that Hamas must be defeated or annihilated before even a temporary ceasefire could be brought into force.

But the widespread support for Palestine, the ruling of the ICJ, the arrest warrants sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and US prodding have forced Israel to bend.

On Wednesday, Ireland, Norway and Spain announced their decision to recognise a Palestinian State on May 28.

“There cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition,” Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr said. “By recognizing a Palestinian state, Norway supports the Arab peace plan. Palestine as an independent state with all the rights and obligations that entails,” Gahr added.

Simon Harris, the Irish premier said recognition will help move the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to resolution through a two-state solution.

Addressing the Spanish parliament, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: “We are going to recognize Palestine for many reasons and we can sum that up in three words – peace, justice and consistency. We have to make sure that the two-state solution is respected and there must be mutual guarantees of security.”

Sharply criticising Netanyahu, Sanchez said: “Prime Minister Netanyahu is still turning a blind eye and bombing hospitals, schools, homes. He is still using hunger, cold and terror to punish more than a million innocent boys and girls – and things have gone so far that prosecutors at the international criminal court have this week sought his arrest for war crimes.”

Spain had denied port facilities to a Danish-flagged ship with explosive material from India meant for Israel.

Eight EU members had already recognised Palestinian Statehood.

France’s foreign minister said Wednesday that officially recognizing the Palestinian state is not a taboo, but any such decision must come at the right time.

“This is not just a symbolic issue or a question of political positioning, but a diplomatic tool in the service of the solution of two states living side by side in peace and security,” Stephane Sejourne said in a statement.

Germany echoed such a sentiment, saying: “An independent Palestinian state remains a firm goal of German foreign policy,” a German foreign ministry spokesperson said. But a dialogue process was needed to reach that goal, the spokesperson added.

But Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameroon, said in February that recognition of Palestine “can’t come at the start of the process.”

A senior member of Hamas’s political bureau Bassem Naim told AFP that recognitions by the three European countries will be a “turning point in the international position on the Palestinian issue.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) described the recognitions as an “important historic step is in line with international law and relevant United Nations legitimacy resolutions.”

Jordan hailed them as an “important and essential step towards Palestinian statehood.”

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council also spoke out in support of the European countries’ move, with Secretary General Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi saying it represented “a pivotal and strategic step towards achieving the two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a statement said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the move would help “Palestine gain the status it deserves in the international community.” Turkey would continue with efforts to press more states to recognize Palestine, the ministry said.

Since 1988, 139 of 193 United Nations member states have recognized Palestinian Statehood. In April, the UN General Assembly, 143 countries, including India, passed a resolution calling for the recognition of the Palestinian State.

On Wednesday the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu described the decision of Ireland, Norway and Spain to recognise Palestine as a “reward for terrorism and will not bring peace."

He declared that a Palestinian state would be a “terrorist state.”

Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s Finance Minister threatened to take “harsh punitive measures” against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in retaliation for the recognition of a Palestine state. That includes cutting the authority's tax revenues.

The tax revenues -- known in Palestine and Israel as “maqasa” -- are collected by the Israeli government on behalf of the PA on Palestinian imports and exports, and Israel in return earns a 3% commission. The revenues are estimated at around US$ 188 million every month and represent the main source of income for the Palestinian Authority.

Reacting to the announcement by the three European countries, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that any Palestinian State must be formed only a result of “direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"What the United States can do through hard, gumshoe diplomacy, led by the President, the Secretary of State, myself, others is trying to put the pieces in place for a vision of an integrated region, of a secure Israel, of a two-state solution."

"Israel is a sovereign nation, it will ultimately have to decide what it does. What we can do as a friend is trying to put the pieces in place to drive down that road," Sullivan said.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan had moved applications for arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for operations after October 7 in Gaza, as well as the Hamas leadership, for the terror attack that killed 1,200 in Israel, terming these as “war crimes”.

Prosecutor Khan told CNN that Netanyahu and Gallant would be charged with “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare as a war crime” and “extermination and/or murder… including in the context of deaths caused by starvation, as a crime against humanity” in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking about the ICC warrant, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell had said “all States that have ratified the ICC statutes are bound to execute” the rulings of the court “as an independent international institution.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he will work with Congress on sanctions against the International Criminal Court for issuing warrants for senior Israeli officials.

Blinken told a congressional hearing he was "committed" to taking action against the "profoundly wrong-headed decision". His comments come amid a Republican push to impose sanctions on ICC officials.

The US is not a member of the court but has backed previous prosecutions, including the ICC's arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.