Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel finally got some help on Wednesday in efforts to push back against a wave of European parliaments overwhelmingly recommending to their governments to recognize “Palestine,” when former, and possibly future, French president Nicolas Sarkozy came out squarely against the move.
Israeli diplomatic officials are hoping that unlike what happened in similar votes over the past month in the British, Irish and Spanish parliaments, the move in France will face significant opposition, and Sarkozy’s comments will help solidify that opposition.
Sarkozy was quoted as asking fellow UMP party members on Tuesday to vote against the resolution.
“I will fight for the Palestinians to have their state. But unilateral recognition a few days after a deadly attack and when there is no peace process? No!” he said, in reference to last week’s terrorist attack at a synagogue in the capital’s Har Nof neighborhood that killed five Israelis.
The French parliament is scheduled to vote on a resolution brought by the Socialist Party on Tuesday. Other parliaments expected to vote on similar resolutions in the coming weeks include the Danish, Italian, Slovenian and Portuguese legislatures.
Denmark’s Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard also came out against recognizing “Palestine” at this time, because there is no unified European position on the matter, but advocated instead getting the EU to take steps against settlements – where there is agreement. “The positions of member states [on recognition] are evolving. This, in my view, makes sense as the peace process is not showing any progress,” he told the EUobserver website. “Denmark will also come to recognize Palestine, but the timing has to be right.”
Instead, he said, it’s time for the EU to step up unified steps against the settlements.
“Israel continues to, unacceptably, expand the illegal settlements and thus de facto undermines the possibilities for a two-state solution,” Lidegaard said. “The chances of bringing together the EU and actually influencing the conflict would be greater if we consider further action against the settlements.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week during a meeting with visiting Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka that the trend of European parliaments recommending unilateral recognition was a “big mistake for peace.”
He said these steps – which are only symbolic and have no real substantive impact – encourage “the Palestinians to harden their positions, not to compromise on mutual recognition, not to compromise on the things that are needed to achieve genuine security. I think these European positions actually push peace away, and I believe that they make reaching a solution much harder.”