German parliament to vote on Palestine recognition
search
Exclusive

German parliament to vote on Palestine recognition

Far-left opposition party brings proposal; resolution expected to fail, in what Jerusalem could interpret as a victory

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session of the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) in Berlin on November 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/CLEMENS BILAN)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session of the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) in Berlin on November 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/CLEMENS BILAN)

The German parliament is set to vote on the recognition of a Palestinian state.

A resolution proposed by Die Linke, a far-left opposition party, calls on the government in Berlin to “immediately recognize the State of Palestine in the 1967 borders” and to promote its full membership in the United Nations.

No date has yet been set for a vote.

Die Linke, which holds only 64 seats out of 631 in the Bundestag, is known to be extremely critical of Israeli policies, and its proposal on Palestine is therefore unlikely to attain the required majority, several experts on German politics said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who heads the center-right CDU party — by far the largest faction in the Bundestag — opposes unilateral steps toward Palestinian statehood.

If the German parliament were to adopt the resolution calling for the recognition of Palestine it would constitute a success, however symbolic, for the Palestinian cause, since Berlin is traditionally one of Israel’s staunchest defenders on the international stage, second only to the United States.

German and Israeli officials declined to discuss the matter on the record.

“I can’t image that this petition by Die Linke will find a general consensus in the German Bundestag,” said Richard C. Schneider, the Tel Aviv bureau chief of the country’s state-run television station ARD. “It’s clear that Germany in general is very much in favor of the two-state solution, but Germany right now will rather wait and see how the new Israeli government is going to develop and which steps it is going to take.”

On the other hand, an Israeli official speaking on the condition of anonymity suggested that the motion’s failure to pass could hand Jerusalem a victory of sorts. If German lawmakers reject a motion to recognize a Palestinian state, Israel could argue that the trend of European nations recognizing Palestine in the absence of a peace agreement has been stopped — by one of most important countries on the continent.

In a preliminary draft of the resolution [German link], Die Linke welcomes the passing of similar notions by the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and the European Union. These precedents should motivate Germany to likewise promote the recognition of Palestine “and thus advance the resuscitation of the peace process,” the draft reads.

“The time remaining for the implementation of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders is becoming more limited,” the draft continues, adding that Israel and Palestine “may agree on territorial swaps.” Berlin should work for Palestine’s full membership at the UN and advertise such a move within the European Union, the draft states.

It further calls on the German government to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace talks “to enable a system of mutual security” between the two states.

In November, Merkel said she hoped for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, adding that “we also believe that unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state won’t move us forward.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a joint press conference at the King David hotel in Jerusalem on February 25, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/Menahem Kahana)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a joint press conference at the King David hotel in Jerusalem on February 25, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Merkel is said to have a difficult personal relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but her policies are unreservedly pro-Israeli. In a 2008 speech in the Knesset, Merkel declared that Israel’s security is part of her country’s “raison d’etat” (Staatsraison in German). Therefore, she vowed, “Israel’s security will never be open to negotiation.”

Later this year, Germany and Israel will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations with several festive events in both countries.

read more:
less
comments
more