Three European nations said they would recognize an independent Palestinian state, reflecting deepening international frustration with Israel’s war in Gaza, where the Israeli military was moving deeper into Rafah to shore up its control of the besieged enclave’s border with Egypt.

Norway, Spain and Ireland said on Wednesday that they were taking the necessary steps to bring into effect their recognition of a Palestinian state and expected other countries to follow in the coming weeks. The move runs counter to Washington’s long-held position that a future state comprising the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem should come about through a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict .

President Biden supports a two-state solution but believes it should be realized through direct negotiations between the parties, not through unilateral recognition, said national security adviser Jake Sullivan. “Each country is entitled to make its own determinations, but the U.S. position on this is clear,” he said. Serious talks on a two-state solution have been moribund for years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said plans by European countries to recognize a Palestinian state were “a reward for terrorism,” and that such a reward “will not bring peace—and it will not stop us from defeating Hamas either.” The war began in response to Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed, most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials.

The current Israeli government has rejected calls for a two-state solution. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he recalled the Israeli ambassadors to Ireland, Norway and Spain for consultations and issued a private diplomatic message to the ambassadors from those countries conveying Israel’s opposition to the move.

The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the decisions and called on other states to do the same as soon as possible, “as a step towards ending the grave injustice to which the Palestinian people have been subjected for many decades of occupation.”

Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, welcomed the move as “an important step on the path to establishing our right to our land and establishing our independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

The United Nations granted nonmember observer status to Palestine in 2012. About 140 countries have recognized a Palestinian state, but Europe has long been split on the issue. In 2014, Sweden recognized a Palestinian state, and Slovenia said it may follow soon. Britain and Germany, meanwhile, continue to say they will only do so through a formal peace process involving Israel.

Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state has gained momentum as Israel’s war in Gaza has destroyed much of that territory and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank further endangers the possibility of stitching together a state with territorial integrity.

“In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Two states, living side by side, in peace and security,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said on Wednesday.

The moves by Norway, Spain and Ireland come after the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said this week that he was seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as for a number of Hamas leaders. Biden earlier condemned the prosecutor’s decision as “outrageous” over allegedly drawing equivalence between Israel and Hamas. But some European states, including Norway, said they would be obligated to discharge the warrants if they are ultimately issued.

Recognition isn’t a silver bullet, but a belated acknowledgment that the Middle East peace process that started in Oslo in 1993 has failed and something else must be tried, said Hugh Lovatt, senior policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

That includes “steps that have previously been taboo or de-prioritized out of deference to a mostly nonexistent peace process,” said Lovatt, including cases at the ICC and the International Court of Justice, as well as potential sanctions.

The diplomatic wrangling comes as Israel pushes forward with military operations in Gaza, which over the past seven months have killed 35,000 people , most of them civilians, according to Palestinian officials, whose figures don’t differentiate between civilians and combatants.

The latest advances are in Rafah. Some 800,000 people have fled the city in the past three weeks for tent camps or bombed-out cities further west and north, shrinking a population that had swelled to more than a million earlier in the war as people escaped fighting elsewhere in the strip.

Israeli officials briefed Sullivan during a recent visit about their revised plans for a Rafah operation. Washington has for weeks opposed an Israeli operation in the city, citing a lack of measures to protect the population.

The discussions helped give the Biden administration confidence that an expanded operation could go ahead, given significant modifications to Israel’s plans to address potential harm to civilians and the flight of people from the area, a senior administration official said.

Sullivan said Wednesday that the Biden administration would be watching to see “whether there is a lot of death and destruction from this operation or if it is more precise and proportional.” He added that the administration would “remain closely engaged with the Israeli government as we go.”

In southern Rafah, Israel has seized at least half of Gaza’s 9-mile southern border with Egypt, known as the Philadelphi Corridor. Egyptian officials say Israel intends to dominate the strategic corridor by the end of this month as it pursues Hamas fighters in the area.

Israeli Army Radio said Wednesday that the Israeli military holds half of the border zone and has doubled the number of brigades operating in the Rafah area. Egyptian officials estimate Israeli military control of the corridor is higher, at around 70%.

Witnesses in Rafah said that Israeli tanks had advanced from the Brazil neighborhood toward the Bahlul gas station and the Zul-Nurein mosque. The tanks moved behind the Bank of Palestine and the cattle market, where some troops were present, they said.

The Egyptian military this month mobilized reservists and significantly increased its forces in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with Gaza to keep the conflict from spilling over into its own territory, Egyptian officials said. Both sides remain in contact but aren’t currently operationally coordinating.

Israel says taking control of the corridor is critical to its goal of defeating Hamas, which it says is holding out in Rafah, from where it has urged civilians to evacuate. But doing so could jeopardize the country’s 45-year-old peace treaty with Egypt , which limits the number of troops both countries can deploy in the area. The Israeli Defense Ministry and prime minister’s office declined to comment on whether Israel aims to take full control of the southern frontier or has a timeline for doing so.

Israel’s operations in Rafah and growing control of the corridor have hindered efforts to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation across the enclave. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said it suspended food distribution in Rafah on Tuesday because of a lack of supplies and security issues. The agency has struggled for weeks to get aid through two border crossings into Rafah.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant Wednesday and urged the Israeli government “to conclude talks with Egypt to reopen Rafah Crossing and resume the flow of aid from Egypt,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Separately, a continuing Israeli military operation that began Tuesday in the West Bank city of Jenin has killed 10 Palestinians and injured at least 21 others, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Israeli military said its operation was targeting militants there. It said it had killed two who had hurled improvised bombs toward soldiers, confiscated military equipment and uncovered explosives.

Local officials say the adjacent refugee camp is cordoned off and cut off from power, while paramedics haven’t been allowed to access residential areas, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Write to Stephen Kalin at and Summer Said at