1st Aug 2021

Spanish MPs to vote on Palestine recognition

  • Makeshift synagogue on Palestinian land in Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

Spanish MPs will, on Tuesday (4 November), vote on a non-binding motion urging Madrid to recognise Palestinian statehood, following similar moves in Britain, Ireland, and Sweden.

The motion was tabled by Antonio Hernando Vera, an MP from the centre-left opposition party, the PSOE.

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It says Spain should “recognise Palestine as a state, subject to international law” and “promote, in co-ordination with the European Union, the [wider] recognition of the Palestinian state”.

Vera - in a statement on 16 October accompanying his motion - noted there is widespread feeling in Europe that efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict through bilateral talks alone have “run their course” and that there is a need to “be more innovative”.

He added that Israel’s summertime Gaza invasion, which killed “nearly 500 [Palestinian] children … contributed to this feeling of frustration”.

Spain already voted Yes on admitting Palestine to the UN's heritage body, Unesco, in 2011 and on making it a UN “observer state” in 2012.

Spanish MPs in 2011 also backed a motion for Spain to recognise Palestine if Arab-Israeli peace talks lead nowhere.

Meanwhile, a Spanish diplomat told EUobserver that Madrid sees itself as a “leader” in Europe on the Middle East Peace Process.

The contact said that, unlike Vera, Spain's centre-right government believes Palestinian statehood “must be the outcome of a process of direct negotiations between the parties”.

But the diplomat added that Spain's foreign minister, Jose Garcia-Margallo y Marfil, thinks the EU should prepare a plan B.

“I think he also believes that the EU should aim for consensus on this matter [Palestine recognition], considering the prospect of a sine die deadlock in negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis”.

The Spanish vote comes after MPs in Britain and Ireland last month voted Yes on similar non-binding motions.

Sweden, on 30 October, also became the first sitting EU state to recognise Palestine, while eight other now-EU countries recognised it in the 1980s.

The developments have outraged Israel’s right-wing ruling coalition.

But more than 500 Israelis last week sent a petition to Madrid urging MPs to vote Yes because, they said, Israeli settlement expansion threatens to “obliterate the chances” of a two-state solution.

It was signed by three former Israeli ministers, two former ambassadors, nine former MPs, five former senior military officers, and a Nobel laureate, as well as hundreds of other scientists, professionals, and artists.

For her part, the EU’s new foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is to visit Israel and the West Bank on Friday in her first official foreign trip.

She noted in an interview with five leading European newspapers, out on Tuesday, that she has no say on Palestine recognition, which is a sovereign matter for EU member states.

“What’s important for me is not whether other countries, European or not, recognise Palestine. I will be happy if, at the end of my mandate [in 2019] a Palestinian state exists [in reality]”, she added.

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