Sunday

24th Jul 2016

EU opinions multiply on Palestinian UN upgrade

  • The potential UN vote on Palestine's status could end up splitting the EU and causing a clash with the US in what diplomats are calling a 'train wreck' (Photo: tomdz)

Five EU countries have joined France in saying the UN should upgrade Palestine's status. Three have joined the UK in saying No. Others fall in between the two camps or are staying out of the debate for now.

Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain in their UN General Assembly speeches over the weekend joined France in backing the upgrade.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"This session may be remembered as the one in which the general assembly granted Palestine the status of a non-member observer state. This decision could be supported by Spain," Spanish foreign minister Trinidad Jimenez said in New York on Saturday (24 September).

Her speech was marked by a defence of Israel as a Jewish state, however - a red line for Palestinians who say that one fifth of Israeli citizens are Arabs and that Palestinian refugees in neighbouring countries should have the right of return.

"I wish to underline Spain's commitment to the state of Israel as the embodiment of the project to create a homeland for the Jewish people," she said.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho backed the upgrade unconditionally. Belgian foreign minister Steven Vanackere said Palestine "has now reached a level of statehood the world cannot ignore." Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn and his Greek counterpart Stavros Lambrinidis went even further, saying Palestine's appeal to get full UN membership must "be heard" and "respected."

In a second group, Finland, Malta and Sweden did not explicitly back an upgrade but underlined Palestine's rights and its institutional readiness for statehood while criticising Israeli settlement-building.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Italy joined the UK and the US in the anti-upgrade camp.

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini told the UN: "We continue to strongly back the American efforts" to restart peace talks with no change in Palestine's UN status. Czech President Vaclav Klaus said "I agree with [US] President Obama."

Bulgarian foreign minister Nickolay Mladenov was confusing. On one hand he criticised Palestine's "unilateral" UN bid and supported Israel as a Jewish state. But on the other, he noted that Bulgaria already recognised Palestinian independence in 1988.

Most of the other member states who spoke over the weekend - Austria, Cyprus and former Communist EU countries - did not take a position. The group, many of which are more interested in EU-Russia relations than the Middle East, instead repeated generalities about a two-state solution or said nothing on the subject.

Germany and the Netherlands (traditionally pro-Israeli), Ireland and Denmark (pro-Palestinian) as well as Romania have not yet spoken at the UN event.

The EU's Catherine Ashton is trying to avoid a UN vote on the upgrade by promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks based on a timetable agreed by the Quartet - the EU, Russia, the UN and the US. Almost every EU country paid lip service to her official role as the union's foreign policy chief by wishing the Quartet well.

The Quartet plan has suffered two early knock-backs, however.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday after returning home to a hero's welcome he cannot accept it because it does not call for a freeze on Israeli settlements. And Egyptian foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said it is a "failure" because it is skewed in Israel's favour.

MEPs fear further 'Putinisation' of Turkey

MEPs criticised the harsh crackdown in Turkey after last week's failed coup, and warned that Ankara must not go down the road towards an authoritarian regime, in an extraordinary meeting of the EP's foreign affairs committee.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event Agenda for 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels

Latest News

  1. Munich attack might not have been terrorism
  2. A very British (and Corbynite) coup
  3. Poland 'changing for the worse' for Muslims and refugees
  4. EU aims to lift visas on Turks despite purge
  5. ECB in ‘bail-out’ of scandal-tainted VW
  6. EU failed to learn lesson from Brexit, Poland says
  7. UK accord on EU workers 'crucial', France says
  8. EU and US take different lines on Turkey crackdown