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Italy votes to support a Palestinian state and resumption of talks

February 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Italian MPs have backed a non-binding resolution to encourage the government to recognise Palestine as a state, Anadolu reported today. In a separate resolution, the parliamentarians called for the resumption of peace talks with Israel.

The motion was passed by 300 votes to 45, with 39 abstentions. It was presented by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) “to promote the recognition of Palestine as a democratic state.” The MPs did not accept a stronger motion, supported by the Left Ecology and Liberty Party, which would have “fully and formally recognised the Palestinian State.”

European countries have become increasingly critical of the Israeli occupation, which since the collapse of the latest round of US-sponsored talks last April, has pressed on with building illegal settlements on territory the Palestinians insist should be part of their independent state. Friday’s symbolic vote does not change the position of the Italian government which, like other European countries, still supports a negotiated two-state solution.

Both motions were criticised by the Palestine Liberation Organisation Executive Committee for falling short of an unconditional recognition of Palestine. “We call on the Italian government to recognise the Palestinian state without conditions, to take serious and concrete measures to end the [Israeli] military occupation and to work towards a just peace,” said Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi.

Israel’s embassy in Rome said that it “acknowledges positively the decision of the Italian parliament not to recognise the Palestinian state and to have preferred to sustain direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Ireland, Britain and France have held similar parliamentary votes on the status of Palestine in recent months. Sweden went further, and offered Palestine official recognition, a move which drew swift condemnation from Israel and the United States, even though the 193-member UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of a non-member observer state on 29 November 2012.

Such status means that Palestine has access to UN agencies and the International Criminal Court, where the government can file formal complaints against the Israeli occupation in respect of allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Palestine officially joined the ICC last month after its bid to be recognised as a sovereign state was rejected by the UN Security Council following fierce lobbying on behalf of the Israelis.

The Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories occupied by Israel in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. They demand that the Israeli occupation authorities should withdraw from all of the occupied Palestinian territories. However, the Israelis have refused to do so and continue to build illegal settlements on Palestinian land. They also refuse to discuss the status of Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the issue of borders.