Spanish FM
Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez meeting with President Shimon Peres, Jerusalem, February 8, 2011. Photo by AP
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Spain’s Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez presented a new policy for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on Saturday, declaring Israel as the homeland of the Jews for the first time and saying that the issue of Palestinian refugees should be solved in such a way that it does not compromise Israel’s current demographic makeup of a Jewish majority.

Jimenez’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly is particularly dramatic in light of the fact that Spain is considered the leading EU country to support Palestinian rights. Adopting such a pro-Israel stance may lead to other countries to follow suit.

The foreign minister stressed Spain’s commitment to Israel “as the embodiment of the project to create a homeland for the Jewish people.” She recounted how since Israel’s inception, it has suffered through many wars and terrorism against its people, adding that Israel’s security is a top priority for Spain.

Jimenez called for the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 lines, with agreed swaps and Jerusalem as a shared capital with Israel.

“The security of Israel and Palestine will require effective guarantees in the future peace agreement, including a possible international participation, should the parties request it,” the Spanish foreign minister said. She made clear that the best way to achieve such a deal would be through a negotiated peace treaty.

The Spanish foreign minister also addressed “the painful drama of the Palestinian refugees”, presenting a new policy on this issue as well. She said that the refugee problem should be justly agreed upon by both Israel and the Palestinians, while still preserving Israel’s character as a Jewish state.

Jimenez said that Spain supports the General Assembly granting Palestine the status of a non member observer state, explaining that the international community must show that it is committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

“Effective, sustainable peace can only be achieved through negotiations between the parties,” she stressed, clarifying that “Spain believes that the Palestinians could find in this new status a stimulus for the prompt resumption of negotiations.”

She also warned that this new status should not be abused or used in a way that is incompatible with the spirit of negotiations.

Jimenez recounted Spain’s longstanding support for the Palestinians’ struggle against the occupation; however, she also emphasized Spain and the Jewish people’s centuries-long relationship.

“Spain’s identity cannot be understood without her Arab and Jewish heritage,” she added.