Differences in Europe over a possible Palestinian move to get the UN to recognize an independent state in September are emerging, as Der Spiegel reported on Friday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who invited PA President Mahmoud Abbas to Berlin next month, will urge him not to seek unilateral recognition.
This report comes just days after France’s ambassador to the UN said during a Security Council debate on the Middle East that “recognition of the state of Palestine is one of the options which France is considering, with its European partners, with a view to creating a political horizon for relaunching the peace process.”
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A British spokesman was quoted by AFP regarding that meeting as saying that “nothing is off the table with regard to recognition in September.”
The US has made clear that it is opposed to such a move.
Europe is turning into the major battleground over the issue, since –
according to Israeli officials – the Palestinians know that for a
resolution in the UN General Assembly to have any significance, it would
have to be backed not only by the Islamic and developing countries that
regularly give it an automatic majority in the Assembly, but also by
the moral authority of the world’s democratic countries. Since the US
has made its position clear, the focus is now on the EU.
It is not known whether the EU will take a unified position on this
matter. In the past, for instance when the General Assembly voted to
adopt the Goldstone Commission report in 2009, some of the 27 EU
countries – the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the
Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia – voted for Israel against the report;
some abstained; and some – Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia
– voted against Israel.
Israel has been lobbying hard against a General Assembly resolution on
Palestinian statehood, arguing that it would give the Palestinians a
prize for refusing to return to the negotiations; and that instead of
creating a “political horizon” that would lure the Palestinians back to
talks, such a move would harden them in their position that the
international community would eventually “deliver” Israel.
Berlin announced on Saturday that Merkel had invited Abbas to a meeting
on May 5, although the German government declined to specify the
meeting’s agenda. Der Spiegel, however, said Merkel would advise Abbas
against lobbying the General Assembly to bypass direct
Israel-Palestinian talks and recognize a state in September.
Merkel came out against a UN resolution recognizing an independent
Palestinian state earlier this month after meeting with Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu in Berlin. “The Federal Republic of Germany is
championing a two-state solution...
Any kind of unilateral recognition does not promote this goal. This will
be our position in September,” she said following the meeting.
Turkey, meanwhile, had come out as expected for a UN declaration on
Palestinian statehood. Turkey Today’s Zaman website reported on Saturday
that at Thursday’s Mideast debate in the Security Council, Ankara’s
ambassador to the UN, Ertugrul Apakan, said that the Palestinian
Authority, though its statebuilding efforts, “has proven to all the
skeptics that they deserve to attain their decades-long target of
internationally recognized statehood, even though they continue to
suffer under occupation.”
If Palestinians prove objectively ready to move from current observer
status at the UN into full statehood, the international community “must
not turn a blind eye to their just and legitimate appeal,” Apakan was
quoted as saying, adding that “the time has come to show solidarity with
the Palestinians and help them to live in peace and dignity.”
In a related development, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i
called on Netanyahu on Saturday to work toward the creation of a
“The prime minister needs to behave like [his predecessor] Menachem
Begin, who went against the opinions of many in his party, and to [work
toward] establishing a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel,”
Vilna’i said at an event in Holon. “We cannot arrive at a point where a
Palestinian state is declared unilaterally. Therefore, the government
must find a solution through dialogue, in which we are guaranteed
security and they are guaranteed a state.”
Vilna’i also addressed a demonstration that took place on Thursday in
front of Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall, in which nearly two dozen Israel
Prize winners expressed support for the creation of a Palestinians state
and were met with calls of “traitor” from counter-protesters.
“We have a difficult debate in Israeli society on the subject of peace,”
Vilna’i said. “The demonstration by leftist organizations at
Independence Hall in Tel Aviv expressed one of the opinions in that
Those blocking the creation of a Palestinian state are Hamas members,
Vilna’i said. “Hamas erred when it conquered the Gaza Strip and turned
it into a terrorist base both above and below ground.”
Instead of the Palestinians arguing that they were capable of managing a
state, Hamas in Gaza was turning the Palestinians back to terrorism, he
said. The Palestinian leadership’s job, Vilna’i declared, “is to fight
Hamas and to win that fight.
“Hamas is an organization that doesn’t understand any language other than the language of war,” he said.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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