Spanish lawmakers were set to vote on Tuesday in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state, parliamentary sources said, in a symbolic move intended to promote a “two-state solution.”
The non-binding vote was brought forward by the opposition Socialist party but has the support of the ruling People’s Party (PP) and other groups in the lower house of parliament, sources from the two parties said.
“It (the vote) is not binding, it does not set a timeline for the recognition, it gives the government the margin to proceed with the recognition when it feels it will be opportune,” Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told reporters in Brussels on Monday.
“If we want to be effective this recognition must be done in coordination with the European Union,” he added.
The motion calls on the Spanish government to “recognize Palestine as a state,” according to a draft text presented by the Socialists, and urges Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy “to promote in coordination with the European Union the recognition of the Palestinian state as sovereign, contiguous, democratic and independent which lives in peace and security with the state of Israel.”
It echoes similar moves in other European countries intended to increase pressure for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Britain and Ireland approved similar non-binding motions last month that call on their governments to recognize Palestine. Neither government has heeded that call.
France is also eyeing a similar non-binding resolution for November 28 after Sweden’s center-left government took the lead by officially recognizing the state of Palestine within days of taking office last month.
The EU’s new foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers discussed at a meeting in Brussels on Monday how they could start “a positive process with the Israelis and Palestinians to re-launch a peace process.”
The moves reflect mounting frustration in the European Union at Israel’s illegal settlement plans on land the Palestinians who support a two-state solution want for a state following the collapse of US-sponsored peace talks.
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous Balfour Declaration, called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Israel then occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In November 1988, Palestinian leaders led by Arafat declared the existence of a State of Palestine inside the 1967 borders and the state’s belief “in the settlement of international and regional disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the charter and resolutions of the United Nations.”
Heralded as a “historic compromise,” the move implied that Palestinians would agree to accept only 22 percent of historic Palestine, in exchange for peace with Israel. It is now believed that only 17 percent of historic Palestine is under Palestinian control following the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.
The Palestinian Authority this year set November 2016 as the deadline for ending the Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 and establishing a two-state solution.
It is worth noting that numerous pro-Palestine activists support a one-state solution, arguing that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable.
They also believe that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.
The Palestinian Authority estimates that 134 countries have now recognized Palestine as a state, although the number is disputed and several recognitions by what are now European Union member states date back to the Soviet era.
An AFP count puts the number of states that recognize Palestine at 112.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)