Spanish FM signals support for PA at UN, drawing

August 21, 2011 14:38

Madrid's FM says she hopes meeting with EU FMs will bring progress toward recognition of statehood; J'lem irritated by Spanish move.

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Spanish FM Trinidad Jimenez  with Abbas

Spanish FM Trinidad Jimenez with PA President Abbas 311 (R). (photo credit: Andrea Comas / Reuters)

Spain hopes a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on September 2 will bring progress toward the recognition of a Palestinian state, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez has said.

“There’s the feeling that now is the time to do something, to give the Palestinians the hope that a state could become reality,” she said in an interview with El Pais newspaper published on Sunday.

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“We have to give them some signal, because if we don’t it could generate great frustration for the Palestinian people,” she said.

Jimenez’s comments of apparent support for a Palestinian move at the UN in September coming ahead of the monthly meeting of EU foreign minister in Sopot, Poland, elicited a disappointed response from the Foreign Ministry.

“The Palestinian unilateral move is the incarnation of rejectionism,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. “By evading the need for direct talks, the Palestinians are jeopardizing future chances for reaching a peace agreement. Those who would promote peace in the Middle East should encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiation table, rather than allowing them to indulge in illusions.”

Asked whether Israel would call in Spain’s ambassador to Israel and protest the comments, or take any other steps to demonstrate its displeasure as was done earlier in the month when the Foreign Ministry called in the ambassador from Honduras to protest after that country said it would vote with the Palestinian Authority at the UN in September, one ministry official said Jerusalem was “studying” Jimenez’s statement.

The official said that Spain’s position was no surprise, and that no one in Jerusalem really expected Madrid to break with its traditional pro-Arab stance.

What is now clear, the official said, is that there will be no consensus among the EU countries in the UN General Assembly in September regarding the statehood recognition vote, with Spain likely to be joined in voting with the Palestinians by Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Slovenia and Luxembourg.

Among those EU countries that have already said that they would not support the move are Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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