Postponement of European Parliament vote on ‘Palestinian state’ highlights divisions

Written by on November 27, 2014 in Europe - Comments Off on Postponement of European Parliament vote on ‘Palestinian state’ highlights divisions

A vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on a draft resolution calling on the European Union to recognise a “Palestinian state” that was to have been held on November 27 has been postponed to mid-December, apparently as EP parliamentary groups remained divided on wording the resolution in a way that could be supported.

The postponement highlights the division in the European Parliament on this sensitive issue, the European Jewish Press said.

The Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the second largest political group in the European Parliament, tabled the resolution which is otherwise supported by the Unified European Left Party (GUE/NGL).

After a debate in the European Parliament on the recognition of Palestine statehood, Gianni Pittella, the president of the Socialists and Democrats Group, said: “We believe that the only way to find a lasting solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is through the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as capital of both states. In this way, the state of Israel could live in peace and security alongside an independent, democratic and viable state of Palestine.

“The S&D Group is deeply concerned by the stalemate in the dialogue and the mounting tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, and we condemn in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism or violence against innocent Israeli and Palestinian citizens.

“We reiterate our strong commitment to the security of the state of Israel but at the same time we call on Israel to stop any settlement construction and extension activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem.”

In an item on the European Parliament website, Fulvio Martusciello, an Italian MEP for the centre-right European People’s Party and chairperson of the delegation for relations with Israel, said, “The European Union has to work diplomatically in order to promote and achieve the peace process between Israel and Palestine. The EU’s efforts should be aimed at encouraging dialogue avoiding hasty decisions and anti-moderate positions.”

According to Israeli diplomatic sources, the vote was postponed because of difficulties between the parties regarding the language of the resolution, opposition to the initiative from several MEPs from various political groups – especially German MEPs – and intense Israeli lobbying in Brussels.

Gilles Pargneaux, a French Socialist MEP and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who is behind the initial resolution said the vote was rescheduled “at the request of the European right,” the EJP said.

The question has come to the forefront of European political debate in recent weeks following Sweden’s decision to officially recognise a ”state of Palestine.”

Sweden became the first EU member state to do so, on October 30 2014.
Later,the British, Irish and Spanish parliaments voted in favour of such a recognition even though the votes are non-binding. The French parliament is to vote on November 28.

On November 22, the EJP reported that Israel had denounced the vote by the Spanish lower house of Parliament calling on the government in Madrid to recognise a Palestinian state, hours after a deadly Jerusalem synagogue terror attack.

“This vote is unhelpful and it only pushes away further the chances of reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, because it encourages the Palestinians to take extreme position,ns,’’ an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson said of the Spanish decision.

“It would have been better if the Spanish parliament had instead chosen to do the right thing by condemning the abominable slaughter carried out by inflamed Palestinians in a synagogue in Jerusalem.”

The vote took place several hours after two Palestinian terrorists from east Jerusalem staged a frenzied attack with meat cleavers and a gun at a synagogue in Jerusalem, killing four rabbis at prayer and a policeman.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the international community of ignoring the bloodshed and seeking instead to reward the Palestinians, in a thinly veiled reference to the vote.

“Unfortunately, there are some who are trying even now to give the Palestinians a prize… of a Palestinian state, which doesn’t even recognise the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.

Israel has said repeatedly that the Palestinians will only secure their long-promised state through bilateral negotiations and not through unilateral recognition by foreign states or by the United Nations.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on November 24, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, said: “Every European parliament that voted to prematurely and unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state is giving the Palestinians exactly what they want – statehood without peace.

“By handing them a state on a silver platter, you are rewarding unilateral actions and taking away any incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate or compromise or renounce violence. You are sending the message that the Palestinian Authority can sit in a government with terrorists and incite violence against Israel without paying any price,” Prosor said.

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