European Parliament Passes Motion in Favor of Palestine Recognition

Motion calls for peace talks to be conducted in parallel; FM Lieberman lambasts decision; Luxembourg parliament passes similar motion.

Parliamentarians take part in a voting session of the European Parliament, Dec. 17, 2014.
Parliamentarians take part in a voting session of the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, Dec. 17, 2014. AFP

The European Parliament accepted, with a large majority, a decision expressing support "in principle" of the recognition of a Palestinian state, along with furthering negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Some 498 parliamentarians voted in favor of the motion, 88 voted against it, and 111 abstained.

The European Parliament "supports in principle the recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced," read the motion, whose phrasing reflected a compromise between various European parties.

The motion stressed that the European Parliament’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state is based on the fact that the Palestine Liberation Organization had recognized the State of Israel in 1993.

The motion is only symbolic, having no practical implications, and its wording is mild in comparison with similar ones passed by the British, French, Irish and Portuguese parliaments. The motions passed by the above-mentioned parliaments called on their respective governments to recognize a Palestinian state immediately, without any link or conditioning to the existence of negotiations with Israel on a permanent settlement to the conflict.

Over the past few weeks, some of the European Parliament’s factions tried to advance a harsher version of the motion that would have called on the governments of all 28 EU member states to unconditionally recognize a Palestinian state.

The European Parliament emphasized in its decision to pass the motion that settlement construction in the West Bank is contrary to international law, and called on the two sides to refrain from activities that undermine the possibility of realizing the two-state solution.

“The European Parliament reiterates its strong support for the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with a secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security,” the motion read.

In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the decision “does not contribute to the improvement of the situation in the Middle East or the improvement of relations between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“Instead of bringing the Palestinians to talk and compromise, [the motion] distances them from negotiations,” Lieberman said. “The European Union and all its institutions must understand that the responsibility for conducting fair and genuine negotiations is not only on Israel but also on the Palestinians."

He added that the European Parliament’s decision on the need for negotiations is "important but not sufficient." 

Meanwhile, the parliament of Luxembourg also adopted a resolution Wednesday calling on its government to recognize a Palestinian state. 34 parliamentarians voted in favor of the motion, three against and 23 were absent.