Monday

17th Dec 2018

UN vote marks EU defeat for Israel

  • Abbas called the UN text "the birth certificate" of the state of Palestine (Photo: United Nations Photo)

Just one EU country - the Czech Republic - voted against Palestine's bid to become a UN "observer state" on Thursday (29 November).

Fourteen others - Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sweden - voted in favour. The rest, including Germany, until now a firm ally of Israel, abstained.

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.

... or join as a group

The result highlighted the EU's lack of unity on the conflict.

But it also marked a drain in sympathy for Israel in Europe, with German officials saying earlier this week that their decision is a protest against Israeli settlement expansion.

Compared to a similar vote on Palestine's bid to join the UN's cultural agency, Unesco, 12 months ago, nine EU countries which abstained or voted No on Unesco changed their votes to Yes or abstained on the UN observer state decision.

Overall, Palestine won Thursday's vote by 138 to nine with 41 abstentions.

The other No votes came from Israel itself, Canada, the US and five minor countries - the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

The UN resolution fixes Palestine's borders on 1967 lines and says that Jerusalem is its capital in the face of Israeli settlement building and its competing claim to the holy city.

It also gives Palestine the right to file cases against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The vote came after ferocious speeches by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor.

Abbas called the UN text "the birth certificate for the reality which is the state of Palestine."

He dubbed Israel an "apartheid system of colonial occupation" and he accused it of "racism ... ethnic cleansing ... war crimes ... barbarity ... murder."

Prosor called Abbas' UN bid a "march of folly."

Noting that his resolution did not recognise Israel as a "Jewish state" or guarantee its security, he said it "is so one-sided, it doesn't advance peace, it pushes it backwards."

The office of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted on Abbas that "someone who wants peace does not talk in such a manner" and threatened to "act accordingly."

Meanwhile, several EU ambassadors took the floor in the UN chamber.

France described its Yes vote as "a choice of enlightenment and consistency."

Germany urged Israel and Palestine to resume peace talks and warned Palestine not to use its new ICC weapon - positions echoed by most EU speakers.

It said it liked Abbas' resolution because it called for a two-state solution, which "implicitly recognises Israel's right to exist."

There was a discrepancy between Italy and the UK.

The Italian ambassador said he voted Yes because Palestine promised Italy it would not use the ICC. The UK said it did not vote Yes because Palestine refused to make the promise.

Finland noted that: "Palestine now has institutions which pass the threshold of what constitutes a modern state."

Turkey and the US also spoke out.

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu recalled his visit to Gaza amid the recent fighting.

He said he met a man who had lost his child and who wept on his shoulder, portraying him as a symbol of Palestine.

America's UN ambassador Susan Rice said: "Today's grand pronouncements will soon fade and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little has changed in their daily lives save that the prospects for a durable peace have receded."

Hamas appeals for talks with EU diplomats

The Prime Minister of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, has appealed to the EU to take his political and militant group, Hamas, off its terrorist register.

Israeli PM 'disappointed' with Angela Merkel

A joint German-Israeli government meeting in Berlin on Thursday is likely to be the scene of more disagreements between Chancellor Merkel and PM Netanyahu as the two traditional allies are having increased difficulty finding common ground.

Israeli leader mocks EU 'dismay'

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has mocked EU "dismay" over his plan to split Palestine in three and take away its capital.

Israel vs. Palestine: one-nil?

Israel last month showed off its high-tech weapons by scoring a "goal" with bombs in a Gaza football field. But civilian deaths and settlement expansion have caused diplomatic defeats.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating
  2. EU capitals see weekend of tear gas and water cannon
  3. Bulgarian 'EU passports' whistleblower wants justice
  4. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  5. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  6. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  7. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  8. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us