10th Dec 2022

EU ministers scramble for common position on Palestine

  • Jerusalem, a holy place for both Jews and Arabs, is one of the biggest problems in efforts to establish two separate states (Photo: Hadar)

EU foreign ministers are gathering on Friday (2 September) and Saturday in the Polish resort of Sopot in a bid to reconcile opposing views on Palestine's upcoming bid to upgrade its UN status.

The meeting comes two days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the bloc to "speak with one voice" on the divisive subject.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"I hope that the 27 countries of the European Union speak with a single voice. We should live up to our responsibilities together," Sarkozy told an annual conference in Paris of France's top diplomats.

A number of EU countries are expected to back the Palestinian effort, including France itself as well as the UK and Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

But with the US already saying it will veto the UN bid, pro-Israeli EU states such as Germany and Italy have indicated they will oppose the move and call for a return to Arab-Israeli peace talks instead.

According to the Jerusalem Post, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told Israeli officials during her visit to Israel this week that she is still trying to convince the Palestinian Authority to back away from the UN application.

Last year, the EU agreed to recognise Palestine "when appropriate", pending a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority leading to a two-state solution.

The two main conditions were to go back to the borders of 1967 and to establish Jerusalem as a shared capital for both sides. No progress has been achieved in either of the two areas, prompting frustrated Palestinians to make the unilateral UN move.

Given the US veto, one likely outcome is for Palestine to become recognised as a country but not as a fully-fledged UN member on the model of the Vatican.

It remains unclear if this would give them the right to file cases to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, enabling them to sue Israel over alleged war crimes.

Another issue complicating the international body's handling of the case is a growing rift between Israel and Turkey.

Turkey - a long-standing ally of both Palestine and the EU - was outraged by Israel's commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last year, which killed nine people.

An inquiry by the United Nations published this week blamed both sides, concluding that the raid was legal, but that Israeli forces used "excessive" violence.


A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail

As a result of my peaceful civil activism, I have been arrested 13 times, undergone five trials, and been sentenced to 34 years of imprisonment and 154 lashes in total. I am currently in Evrin prison, without the slightest regret.


No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU

The European Commission has asked the member states' leaders assembling in Brussels next week for the customary end-of-year European Council to approve EU candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doing so would be a mistake.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission silent on Greek spyware sale to Madagascar
  2. A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail
  3. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  4. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  5. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  6. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  7. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  8. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us