The EU & Palestinian Statehood
By admin November 28, 2014

Palestinian flag


After the Swedish government became the first to pass a vote in October officially recognising the Palestinian state, today on the 28th November, the French government prepares itself for a similar debate. ‘’It is an important step that confirms the Palestinian’s right to self-determination’’ said the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom after she said the criteria in international law for recognising a Palestinian state had been met.

The highly symbolic vote ‘’invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict’’ according to a draft proposal by the ruling Socialist bloc. A motion challenged by Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president and UMP’s presidential candidate in the next elections.

Danish legislators seem to be the next to join the debate on this issue, stating that they will hold a similar vote on the 11th December after some MPs like Holger K. Nielsen felt ‘’inspired’’ by Sweden’s recent decision. However, Denmark’s choice to hold a vote comes after a wave of support washes over Europe amidst a deadlocked peace process. The British, Spanish and Irish parliaments have already passed non-binding motions urging official recognition.

As US attention swings away from the Middle-East towards South-East Asia, the EU has seen this as an opportunity to fill the vacuum and extend its authority in the region.  Even though formally recognising states remains a domestic matter, the EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini has said that the EU needs ‘’a united and strong message’’ to influence events and end the decades-long conflict.

Many MEPs have urged the EU Parliament to follow Sweden’s lead, while others warned that such a move could compromise the EU’s role as a neutral negotiator. Nevertheless a vote on the matter has been postponed until December due to intense lobbying by Israeli diplomats, and because the EU remains divided on this issue. Germany for example remains against formal recognition, and if the vote is to pass within the EU, it needs full consensus between all its 28 member states.

Unable to resolve the 47 year occupation by Israel through negotiations, and following Israel’s 51 day assault on the Gaza strip in mid-2014, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas announced plans to end the occupation. Even though far from complete, Mr Abbas has taken great steps in reunifying the West Bank with the Gaza strip as a single political entity under one rule of law.  He has also signed up to dozens of international treaties on humanitarian law and human rights, steps that only states can take, in order to assert Palestine’s statehood in the international arena.

With the Palestine & Arab Group at the UN, Mahmoud Abbas has also started a draft UN Security Council resolution that would set a timetable for Israel to end the occupation that would be linked ‘’to the timetable resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel to demarcate the border, reach a detailed and comprehensive agreement, and draft a peace treaty between them.’’ A resolution that the US has said it will veto.

Israel for its part in refusing to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds (Jerusalem). The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already warned France against the imminent vote by French lawmakers, and has even recalled its ambassador to Sweden in protest of their official recognition of Palestine.

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