Spain widens push for EU countries to recognize Palestinian State

In his latest stop on a tour of several European countries aimed at gathering support for recognizing a Palestinian state, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez joined his Slovenian counterpart on Tuesday in calling to make the diplomatic move to help secure an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestine is already recognized as a state by the vast majority of United Nations members—139 out of 193 countries—and by a handful of European nations, but the European Union as a whole, the United States, and the United Kingdom are among those that have long refused to recognize statehood.

At a joint press conference with Sánchez, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said the question is “when, not if, but when is the best moment to recognize Palestine.”

Al Jazeera reported Wednesday that Sánchez aims to formally recognize Palestinian statehood by July, even if he does not secure enough support from other E.U. countries.

“The time has come for the international community to once and for all recognize the state of Palestine,” Sánchez said in November. “It is something that many E.U. countries believe we have to do jointly, but if this is not the case, Spain will adopt its own decision.”

Sánchez has also met with leaders in Ireland, Malta, and Norway in recent weeks.

Jonas Gahr Støre, prime minister of Norway—which is not an E.U. member—saidlast week that his government “stands ready” to join “like-minded countries” in recognizing Palestinian statehood.

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said after meeting with Sánchez last Friday that formal recognition “is coming much closer and we would like to move together in doing so.”

“The people of Palestine have long sought the dignity of their own country and sovereignty—a home that like Ireland and Spain can take its place amongst the nations of the Earth,” Harris added.

Ireland’s Green Party said Monday that the full recognition of Palestine by European countries would help to secure a cease-fire in Gaza, where Israel haskilled at least 33,899 people since October and has so far starved more than two dozen children to death by blocking the vast majority of humanitarian aid for months.

Al Jazeerareported Wednesday that Belgium—which has called for economic sanctions on Israel over its bombardment of Gaza—is likely to join Spain’s push after June, when the country no longer holds the E.U. presidency.

The push from Spain comes as the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to vote on whether to admit Palestine as a full member of the U.N., which the Spanish prime minister said would be supported by the governments he’s met with.

Palestinian representatives announced earlier this month that they would revive their application for membership, which the U.S. has vetoed in previous votes.

“We are seeking admission. That is our natural and legal right,” said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. Palestine has held observer status in the U.N. since 2012.

The League of Arab States on Tuesday expressed its “unwavering support” of the Palestinians’ new application.

“Membership in the United Nations is a crucial step in the right direction towards a just and lasting resolution of the Palestinian question in line with international law and relevant U.N. resolutions,” said the group of 22 countries.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters this month that full U.N. membership for Palestine “should be done through direct negotiations through the parties,” while Israeli U.N. ambassador Gilad Erdan said the fact that the application is being considered is “a victory for genocidal terror.”

The Arab League urged U.N. members “not to obstruct this critical initiative.”

From Common Dreams.