Thursday

21st Jun 2018

EU countries declare positions on Palestine's UN bid

  • Palestine's UN resolution says Jerusalem should be a shared capital (Photo: Hadar)

France has said it will vote Yes in a UN vote on making Palestine into an "observer state," but the UK will only back the move with strings attached.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told parliament on Tuesday (27 November): "You know that for years and years France's consistent position has been the recognition of the Palestinian state ... That is why when the question is raised [in New York] on Thursday and Friday, France will respond with a 'Yes'."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The French decision comes as no surprise.

France, along with 10 other EU countries last year voted to admit Palestine to the UN's cultural heritage agency, Unesco.

EU diplomats expect that most of the group-of-11 will take the same line on the UN "state" vote.

Denmark on Tuesday restated its Unesco position by publicly joining France in the Yes camp. "It is an ambition that we support wholeheartedly," its foreign minister, Villy Sovdnal, told the Berlingske daily.

But some countries have changed their mind.

Belgium, which voted Yes on Unesco, plans to abstain on the statehood vote, its foreign ministry's spokesman told the Le Soir daily on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the UK, which abstained last year, has indicated it will vote Yes, but with conditions.

Foreign minister William Hague told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by phone late on Monday that he will back the UN bid if Palestine binds itself not to use its new status to file anti-Israeli cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

A positive UK vote would be a coup for the Palestinian side.

But Palestine's EU ambassador, Leila Shahid, told EUobserver the ICC conditionality is not acceptable.

"We will not give up any rights which the status gives us. We are equal people to those others who have this status, including the right to go to the ICC," she said.

She noted the vote will in any case go through because a majority of UN members already recognise Palestine on a bilateral basis.

But she said European support would have important "symbolic" value due to the EU's financial and political clout in the region: "It will not change anything on the ground, but symbolically and in terms of the legal framework, in terms of the symbolic recognition of the capital and the borders and the right of the refugees, it is very important."

For their part, the US and Israel say the move will harm the prospect of restarting peace talks.

"It's a British call how they want to take this forward. They know exactly where we stand," US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday.

"It enflames the situation between the parties and makes it harder for them to come to the table, makes the political situation harder between them," she added.

But Palestine believes UN status is the only way to protect its land in the face of decades-long Israeli settlement expansion.

"There isn't a third alternative - either you accept the fact that going to the UN is a non-violent and diplomatic way of building a Palestinian state, or you can't give moral lessons to the Palestinians and tell them to face [Israeli] F16s and F15s with their bare hands," Shahid said.

Interview

Palestine's UN upgrade coming back on EU agenda

The EU should get ready for Palestine's renewed push to upgrade its UN status and stop calling for "illusory" peace talks with Israel, a senior Palestinian politician has said.

Analysis

Trump befriends Conte, depresses EU

Most EU leaders found US president Donald Trump "depressing" at the G7, but one of them - Italy's Giuseppe Conte - made a new friend.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us