Spanish MPs to vote today on recognizing Palestine as a state

Parliaments in Great Britain and Ireland already approved similar nonbinding votes.

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November 18, 2014 05:07
4 minute read.
Protest against Gaza operation in Spain

DEMONSTRATORS MARCH with Palestinian flags during a protest against the Israeli offensive against Gaza, in Valencia, Spain. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Spain’s parliament is set to vote Tuesday on a nonbinding resolution to recognize a Palestinian state.

“The only message we want to send tomorrow is to Israel and to Palestine: you both should sit down and work together and look for a way out in this moment, when everything is blocked,” said Spanish parliamentarian Trinidad Jimenez, who spearheaded the initiative.

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A member of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, the largest opposition party in the Spanish parliament, Jimenez sits on the lower house’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, and served as the foreign minister from October 2010 to December 2011.

She described herself as having long been involved and interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

European recognition of a Palestinian state would help create a conducive climate for the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian talks, Jimenez told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview from Spain.

“We feel that we need one more step,” Jimenez said of the vote.

Parliaments in Great Britain and Ireland already approved similar nonbinding votes, calling on their governments to unilaterally recognize “Palestine” as a state outside the paradigm of a peace process.

Neither government has heeded that call.

The position of Great Britain is particularly important because it holds a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, a body whose support is necessary for Palestinians to become a UN member state. In 2015, Spain will become a temporary member of the council for two years.

Speaking with reporters outside the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday, Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Garcia-Margallo, of the ruling People’s Party, called for a common European solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The worst service we can give to the cause of peace in the Middle East is for each country to continue advancing national, isolated solutions and not a joint solution,” he said.

The government position at this point is that Palestinian statehood should only come about as part of negotiated final agreement for a two-state solution, and not as a separate unilateral measure, Garcia-Margallo said.

“We have always said that the only solution is two states, to get to the solution through negotiation is the best way, and we will recognize ‘Palestine’ as a [state] – taking into account what the Congress will approve tomorrow – provided that we believe it is the right step to put on track the negotiations again, or if we consider that negotiations are definitively blocked,” he said.

The proposed text of the resolution to be reviewed by the Congress of Deputies, the parliament’s lower house, urges the government to “recognize Palestine as a state, subject to international law.”

It also calls on the government to “promote in coordination with the European Union the recognition of the Palestinian state.”

Israel has urged Europe not to unilaterally recognize “Palestine” as a state.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the calls that have been coming from European countries, from European parliaments, to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state pushed peace backwards.”

“They don’t tell the Palestinians that they have to make their peace with a nation-state for the Jewish people. They just give the Palestinians a nationstate,” he added.

But Jimenez cited suffering on both sides of the conflict and the long-stalled peace process as proof the “same formula” has failed.

“Are there any negotiations?” she asked. “Is there any dialogue? There’s nothing.”

Moreover, she said the resolution would reflect a consensus in Spain that a two-state solution is a necessary condition for peace in the region.

“In Spain, more or less all the political forces agree that the way to establish a peaceful region is to establish two states, living together, living in peace, living with secure borders,” she said.

Spanish media reported on Friday that 78 senators had signed a statement calling on the government to recognize a Palestinian state. They said in the letter that such a move “doesn’t stand in opposition to anybody, and much less in opposition to the State of Israel.”

Jimenez reiterated that point on Monday.

“It’s not against Israel, and it’s not against Palestine,” she said. “It’s only to push parties to negotiate, to sit down.”

While the resolution does not force the government to recognize Palestinian statehood or establish a timeline for recognition, she said she nonetheless hopes it will help to stoke talks.

Jimenez proposed the resolution early last month, just before Great Britain was set to vote on a similar measure.

“We believe it’s the moment do it,” she said in her speech introducing the measure.

She cited the “destruction of a large part of the Gaza Strip” and the Palestinian Authority’s status as a United Nations observer state as the grounds for recognizing a Palestinian nation immediately.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.


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