Friday

23rd Jun 2017

Palestine fed up with waiting for EU common position

  • Palestinian Authority chief Abbas will go ahead with the UN bid amid lack of EU unity on whether or not to support him (Photo: United Nations Photo)

Palestine's ambassador to the EU has said her leader, Mahmoud Abbas will on Friday (23 September) ask the UN Security Council for full UN membership despite last-minute British, French and US warnings not to go ahead.

Leila Shahid told EUobserver it remains unclear which EU countries will support the resolution or whether French President Nicolas Sarkozy's new three-step peace plan is an EU position or a purely French idea.

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.

"The Europeans have been taken aback by our decision but we are going ahead because we see they cannot agree with each other ... We can't give up our rights while we wait for the Europeans to be united. And we can't give up our rights because [US] President Obama has a presidential campaign coming up and wants to win votes," she said.

"[EU foreign relations chief] Ashton can't unite by force the 27 when they don't see eye to eye. She can't invent a foreign policy where there isn't one."

She spoke out after Sarkozy on Wednesday warned that seeking full UN membership will end with a US veto that "will engender a cycle of violence in the Middle East." He proposed instead the UN General Assembly gives Palestine "observer" status as an "intermediate stage" followed by a resumption of Arab-Israeli peace talks with a deadline of one year to reach agreement.

British leader David Cameron on Thursday took the US line that "No [UN] resolution can, on its own, substitute for the political will necessary to bring peace."

Not all the big players are giving Palestine the same advice, however.

Turkish deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc said in Brussels on Thursday that Turkey sees the Sarkozy plan as the same kind of stalling tactic as French calls for Turkey not to seek full EU membership: "What Sarkozy said to the Palestinians is the same thing he has been saying to Turkey ... This is wrong and his appeal to the Palestinians is also wrong."

For her part, the Palestinian ambassador said the US veto will not be the end of the UN process but "the beginning of a new phase" which could take weeks or months and could see Abbas also seek the French-model observer status later on.

"All the options are open ... Sarkozy proposed very specific options for timetables and so on. The speech was interesting and we will study the details very carefully. We will ask him to explain if this is a French proposal or a European one," she noted.

She added that no matter what happens, Palestine's decision to confront the US will help it to protect its borders against Israeli settlements.

"Friday is a big day. The world is turned over by the discussion on our status and the UN Security Council. It has brought Palestine back into the heart of talks about the whole region, about the positive developments in the Arab world. It has shown ... that Palestine is part and parcel of all this yearning by Arab society for a better future."

She said Israeli diplomats have tried to spook EU countries by telling them that if the UN upgrades Palestine, it will join the International Criminal Court and launch law suits against Israeli soldiers.

"Israel has been playing this game. The fact is that we want UN status in order to protect the borders of the Palestinian state, to protect East Jerusalem from annexation by Israel ... We want to protect what will one day be the Palestinian state because we have seen over the past 20 years that the peace talks have become almost an alibi for Israel to keep building settlements and walls and Israeli-only roads."

The Palestinians have kept the details of their draft UN resolution a secret until the last minute.

Shahid explained it will seek to define Palestinian borders on the basis of 1967 lines and reflect their "responsibility" for Israel's security. But it will not recognise Israel's right to exist as a "Jewish state." "We cannot recognise Israel as a Jewish state because 20 percent of its population are Arabs," she said.

Pointing to EU intervention in Libya, its past actions in Bosnia and Kosovo and its recognition of South Sudan, she noted that EU capitals would be guilty of "double standards" if they back down under Israeli pressure.

"Recognising Palestine is in the interest of the EU because with no Palestinian state there is no solution to the Palestinian-Israeli issue and no peace and stability in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean [region] is Europe's number one commercial, diplomatic, environmental and trade partner in the world. This is the Mediterranean. This is not a far away place like Asia or China."

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will give a State of the Union speech on Wednesday, at one of the most testing times ever in the EU's history.

EU pitches counter-offers to Palestinian statehood bid

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has unveiled an alternative proposal to a UN vote on recognising Palestine. But soft language on Israeli settlements and a competing French idea put the scheme in doubt.

Unesco vote highlights EU split on Palestine

Just five EU countries voted "No" on admitting Palestine to the UN heritage agency, Unesco, in an indication of loyalties on the big question of UN membership.

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal
  2. US issues warrant for VW managers, German media say
  3. EU extends sanctions against Russia
  4. Merkel denies Franco-German deal on EU agencies
  5. Dutch PM: Turkey is upholding migration deal
  6. Britain to outline rights of UK-based EU citizens
  7. Tusk can 'imagine' the UK still remaining in EU
  8. Norway offers more blocks for Arctic oil exploration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  2. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  3. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  4. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  5. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  6. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  7. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  8. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  11. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move
  12. European Social Services ConferenceDriving innovation in the social sector – 26-28 June

Latest News

  1. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  2. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  3. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit
  4. EU pressures firms to tackle online terrorism
  5. Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme
  6. Border management going virtual
  7. Tusk hints UK could stay in EU, if it wanted
  8. Merkel, Orban and the not quite closed Balkan route

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformMuslims Have Unique Responsibility to Fight Terror: Opinon From Fethullah Gülen
  2. EUSEW17Check out This Useful Infographic on How to Stay Sustainable and Energy Efficient.
  3. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Criticises the Juncker Plan's Implementation
  4. The Idealist QuarterlyDoes Europe Really Still Need Feminism? After-Work Chat on 22 June
  5. EUSEW17Create an Energy Day Event Before the End of June. Join the Call for Clean Energy
  6. UNICEF1 in 5 Children in Rich Countries Lives in Relative Income Poverty, 1 in 8 Faces Food Insecurity
  7. International Partnership for Human Rights26 NGOs Call on Interpol Not to Intervene Versus Azerbaijani Human Rights Defenders
  8. Malta EU 2017Significant Boost in Financing for SMEs and Entrepreneurs Under New Agreement
  9. World VisionYoung People Rise up as EU Signs Consensus for Development at EU Development Days
  10. ILGA-EuropeLGBTI Activists and Businesses Fighting Inequality Together
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Prime Ministers Respond to Trump on Paris Agreement
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceNutrition and Heart Disease: Time to Raise Our Standards