France becomes fifth EU state to recognise Palestine in two months

24th Dec 2014

Elham Asaad Buaras

France became the fifth Western European country to recognise a Palestinian state in the space of just two months. Both houses of Parliament voted [339 to 151 in lower house, 153 to 146 in upper house] in favour of the nonbinding motion to recognise a Palestinian state earlier this month. Like the British, Irish, and Spanish counterparts the French vote is non-binding, but highly symbolic.

France becomes fifth EU state to recognise Palestine in two months

The motions are seen to reflect Europe’s growing irritation with the collapse of negotiations over a two-state solution, Israel’s conduct in the recent conflict in Gaza that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and its indifference to international criticism over its ever growing illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories.

Several European countries, including some that later joined the EU, recognised Palestine as long ago as 1988. They include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Sweden officially recognised the state of Palestine on October 30. “It is an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” said Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström. “We hope that this will show the way for others.”

There are 135 of 193 (70%) UN member states that have recognised a Palestinian state, and an increasing number of European countries including Belgium are moving to do so.

Le Soir reported a day after the French vote that Belgium’s main political parties were working on a resolution to recognise a Palestinian state at the “opportune time”.

Didier Reynders, Belgium’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the country has been in favour of recognising a Palestinian state for a long time. “We want to recognise Palestine because we have pushed… for a two-state solution,” said Reynders.

The Israeli embassy in Paris said “Israel believes that the vote in the National Assembly… will reduce the possibility of achieving a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the French vote a “grave mistake”.

The EU Parliament will debate and vote on a resolution to recognise Palestine during its plenary session on December 15.

The vote is unlikely to result in a change of the French Government’s diplomatic support for Israel. President François Hollande, who supports Israel, has distanced himself from the vote.

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