PM to lobby Eastern Europe against Palestinian state

Netanyahu is scheduled to make two separate European trips to present allies with case against Palestinian UN statehood bid.

[Bibi glasses] Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
[Bibi glasses] Binyamin Netanyahu 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The push for European support in blocking a Palestinian move for UN recognition of statehood in September is moving into high gear, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu scheduled to make two trips to eastern Europe in the coming weeks.
Netanyahu is scheduled to go to Romania and Bulgaria in two weeks, and then to Poland and Hungary. These countries are considered to be among Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe, and the prime minister’s visits are aimed at strengthening and reinforcing these relationships.
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Poland and Hungary were among the 18 countries (seven of them from the EU) that voted with Israel in November 2009 against the General Assembly resolution to adopt the Goldstone Commission report on Operation Cast Lead. Romania and Bulgaria were two of the 15 EU countries and 44 overall that abstained.
Diplomatic officials have said Israel is seeking a “critical minority” of 60 democratic countries to vote against the statehood proposal, thereby diminishing its moral significance.
Netanyahu’s trip to Romania and Bulgaria will come fast on the heels of a visit to Italy he will make on Sunday and Monday along with a number of his ministers for an annual joint cabinet meeting.
At an Israeli Independence Day celebration last month in Rome, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Italy would not support a unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood.
Israel recently initiated annual joint cabinet meetings with Germany and Poland, signaling strong bilateral relationships with those countries as well.
In a related development, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is expected in Israel next week for a series of meetings. His visit will come just a week after German Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear in Washington on Tuesday, during a meeting with President Barack Obama, that Germany – like the US – is opposed to the PA statehood bid.