Luxembourg has “stepped up efforts to coordinate an EU reaction to the risk Israel will annex Palestinian territories in the West Bank”, reported EUobserver.
According to EUobserver, Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn “hosted a dinner with eight other EU foreign ministers from Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Malta, Spain, Slovenia, and Sweden” on the matter in Brussels on Sunday. Portugal was also officially represented at the event.
A French diplomat dismissed speculation that the group is preparing to recognise Palestinian statehood if Israel proceeded with the annexation of West Bank territory; “it’s not true”, they said.
A Portuguese diplomat, meanwhile, stated: “Portugal has always had the same position – that there must be an agreement [on Palestine recognition] at the level of 27 EU states. There must be a common position”.
Similarly, the Spanish foreign ministry said: “These conversations do not imply any change in the Spanish position”.
“This recognition must be the result of a negotiation process between the parties [Israel and Palestine] that guarantee peace and security for both, respect for human rights, and regional stability”, the ministry added.
Another diplomat familiar with Sunday’s talks said: “The idea is to propose that the EU foreign service draws up an option paper on how to react to Israeli annexations, and that recognition [of Palestine] is one of those options, in order to try to ward off such [Israeli] actions”.
EUobserver nored that Luxembourg “had already floated the idea of EU recognition of Palestine in early January, but his unilateral intervention has amounted to little so far”.
“Some of the countries represented at Asselborn’s dinner would be happy to go ahead as part of a small coalition of the willing”, the report added, citing an EU source, with Israeli diplomats “nervous” about the meeting.
However, Israel can rely on support from Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Germany, who have all submitted legal opinions to the International Criminal Court, asserting that “Palestine has not met the conditions required to be treated as an independent country”.