Friday, 14 November 2014

Spain Parliament to vote on recognition of Palestinian state

Spain's Parliament will next week be voting as to whether the country will recognize Palestine as a state. This after Sweden unilaterally recognized the Palestinian state and the UK and France are symbolically looking in that direction.

Pro-Palestinian Rally in Fuengirola, Spain - Photo courtesy Anne Sewell, Spanish News in English

Spain's foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo said on Thursday that should the current peace negotiations between Israel and the currently-occupied Palestinian state not come to light, parliament will be debating the issue in its lower house.

The move comes after a push by the PP's main opposition party, the PSOE, on the issue. The socialist party wants the government to "recognize Palestine as a State," pointing out (no doubt due to failed attempts in the past) that the only way a lasting peace agreement between Israel and Palestine could be possible is with the "coexistence of two states."

The PSOE also said that the country's recognition of Palestine should be carried out in a "coordinated manner with the European Union."

According to sources of the El País newspaper, Spain's foreign minister is "not against" these plans.  García-Margallo said that he would not be in favor of a purely "symbolic" recognition of the Palestinian state and that issues relating to setting up borders between the two states would need to be addressed before the full recognition could take place.

"Spain will recognize Palestine when we believe it will favor negotiations or when we believe those negotiations aren't moving ahead," he told the media on Thursday.

Israel has already criticized this move, with Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, saying the Spanish motion “is not useful,” and that "it sends Palestinians the message that they don’t have to negotiate with Israel to get their state."

El País reports that 300 figures from Israel’s political left requested Spain to lead the effort in getting Palestine recognized as a state.

Two weeks ago, the Swedish government officially and unilaterally recognized Palestine, and was the first EU member to do this.  However, Hungary and Poland had recognized Palestine prior to joining the EU bloc. As for the UK and Ireland, they have recently passed symbolic motions towards the recognition of the Palestinian state.