Spindelegger Abbad 311.
(photo credit: Thaer Ganaim/Palestinian Press Office)
The EU’s 27 foreign minister’s are scheduled to meet in Poland on Friday, in a
session expected to go a long way toward determining how the bloc – whose votes
have been courted heavily by both Israel and the Palestinians – will vote on the
PA’s UN statehood recognition bid later this month.
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The meeting comes two
days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a conference of French
ambassadors that it was very important for the EU to speak together on this
“I hope that the 27 countries of the European Union will speak
with one voice and that together we will assume our responsibilities,” he said,
urging a greater role for Europe in the Middle East diplomatic
The chance of this happening, however, seemed slim, since some
countries – such as Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, have indicated
they will vote against the proposal. A number of other countries, such as Spain,
Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg, are expected to vote for the
The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told Israeli
officials during her visit to Israel this week that she was trying to convince
the PA to not take the measure to the UN.
The position of both France and
Britain, meanwhile, has been noncommittal, with French Foreign Minister Alain
Juppé having said earlier in the summer that his country’s vote would depend on
the resolution’s language.
Austria, which earlier this week said that it
would stay away from the so-called Durban III commemoration event in New York on
September 22, remains noncommittal about the PA recognition bid, according to an
Israeli Foreign Ministry source.
Austria has “refrained from stating a
position” and “will not reveal” its stance at this time, the official said,
adding that Vienna was “waiting to see what the big and important [EU] members
are willing to say.”
“Austria does not intend to participate in Durban
III because we have doubts on the political tone of this conference,” Alexander
Schallenberg, a spokesman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry, told The Jerusalem
When asked about the recognition of a Palestinian state, he
referred to a meeting between Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in July.
Spindelegger said in a
statement then, “We would prefer a negotiated two-state solution, because a
negotiated solution is the best guarantee for a stable and peaceful
Regarding the question of the recognition of a Palestinian
state, we will decide as late as possible. At this time, it is still unclear
what concrete agenda the UN General Assembly has to address a Palestinian
Raimund Fastenbauer, the general secretary of Austria’s Jewish
community, told the Post on Wednesday that the community has told its country’s
Foreign Ministry it opposes recognition of a Palestinian state at the
“With the UN it is a clear violation of the Oslo Accords, and a
one-sided step endangers the peace process” between Israelis and Palestinians,
Meanwhile, Austria received a chorus of praise from
Jewish NGOs for its decision to boycott Durban III.
“Austria has joined
the US, Israel, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Australia
as countries that have chosen to reject this anti-Semitic process that uses the
cloak of human rights to give itself legitimacy,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the
associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center.
decision is particularly significant because it had participated in the first
two UN conferences on racism, in Durban in 2001, and Geneva in 2009,” American
Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris said. “Our earnest hope is that
other democratic nations will reach a similar conclusion as Austria did, thereby
further denying this month’s gathering the legitimacy it seeks but most
assuredly does not deserve.”