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Palestine set to be recognised by more EU states as 'taboo' falls away

May 29, 2024 at 3:09 pm

European Union flags are seen waving outside the EU Commission Building in Brussels, Belgium. [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

Recognising Palestine is no longer a “taboo” for European governments, according to the EU’s special representative for the Middle East peace process. Several EU member states are “very likely” to follow the recent moves in that direction by Spain, Norway and Ireland, Sven Koopmans has told Haaretz.

Koopmans, who has held the role since 2021, said that the coordinated recognition of a Palestinian state by the three nations last week has encouraged other EU member states to look “very closely” into following suit and they are likely to take the same step soon.

While emphasising that such decisions are made independently by member states, Koopmans noted that Europe was “very alarmed” by certain statements and actions taken by the current Israeli government, including those against the two-state solution and in favour of eliminating the Palestinian Authority. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected outright the idea of the creation of an independent State of Palestine.

The diplomat warned that Israel’s continuation of its military operation in Rafah violates the International Court of Justice’s order limiting fighting in Gaza’s southernmost city. “ICJ orders are binding upon everyone, and the order was very clear,” he told Haaretz. “But people are still being targeted. The suffering is unimaginable.”

Koopmans plans to convey to Israeli officials next week that their war in Gaza, which has killed over 35,000 Palestinians, mainly women and children, and caused a humanitarian crisis, is turning public opinion against the occupation state. He stressed that as the occupying power, Israel is responsible for ensuring the local population has enough aid to avoid starvation, despite Egypt’s refusal to take aid into the enclave.

The EU’s position since the war began has been clear, Koopmans said: “All Israeli hostages must be released, with no conditions.” He described their continued captivity as “beyond belief” and called for an agreement including a ceasefire and the return of all hostages to end the war.

During recent discussions with Arab foreign ministers, European countries were asked to recognise a Palestinian state officially. Koopmans said that Israel faces an opportunity for closer relations with these Arab countries, but must accept a framework for peace with the Palestinians to unlock it.

“We’re working with the Americans and the Arabs to prepare the ground. But then we hear the Israeli government saying, we don’t believe in two states, there should not be a Palestinian state,” he added, challenging opponents of the two-state solution to propose an alternative.

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