Luxembourg said pushing for EU states to recognize Palestine
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Luxembourg said pushing for EU states to recognize Palestine

Initiative, reportedly to be discussed next month, prompted by US declaration that it no longer views West Bank settlements as illegal; EU unanimity seen as extremely unlikely

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the Europa building in Brussels on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. European Union foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday Feb. 26 to debate ways to revive Middle East peace efforts and discuss the crisis in Venezuela. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the Europa building in Brussels on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. European Union foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday Feb. 26 to debate ways to revive Middle East peace efforts and discuss the crisis in Venezuela. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Luxembourg is pushing its fellow European Union states to recognize Palestine, in response to the recent US declaration that it no longer views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal under international law, Channel 13 news reported Sunday.

The report said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn sent a letter to new EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and to EU foreign ministers, saying the only way to save the two-state solution was to create “a more equitable situation” between Israel and the Palestinians.

“It is time to start a debate within the European Union on the opportunity of a recognition of the State of Palestine by all its Member States,” Channel 13 quoted him as writing.

“The recognition of Palestine as a State would neither be a favour, nor a blank check, but a simple recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to their own State,” he wrote. “In no way would it be directed against Israel.

“Indeed, if we want to contribute to solving the conflict between Israel and Palestine, we must never lose sight of Israel’s security conditions, as well as of justice and dignity for the Palestinian people,” he wrote.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center right, greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, center left, during a group photo at a meeting of leaders at an EU-Arab summit at the Sharm El Sheikh convention center in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The move is expected to be discussed during the next EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in January.

The report said Israeli diplomats were scrambling to stop the measure being adopted.

It appears extremely unlikely that all the European states would agree, as would be necessary for a joint EU move.

After Secretary Mike Pompeo declared last month that the current US administration was changing its stance on the legality of Israeli settlements, outgoing EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement that reiterated that the union’s position “remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

However, an effort to get all 28 European Union member states to issue a joint statement condemning the US decision was blocked by Hungary.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meeting with PM Netanyahu in Lisbon, December 4, 2019 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

More than 135 countries have recognized a Palestinian state, but a number of the most influential international players, including the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany, have not made such a move.

Israel has long argued that recognizing Palestinian statehood before a peace deal is finalized will harden the Palestinians’ negotiating positions, making it more difficult to reach an agreement.

For the past several years, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has urged the international community, especially European countries, to recognize Palestine.

“We hope the states of the European Union… will recognize the State of Palestine,” he said at a press conference in Ramallah in February.

The PA president has also contended that recognition by the international community would encourage Palestinians to maintain hope for peace.

The Palestinians say the Trump administration is completely biased toward Israel and can no longer be viewed as an honest broker.

Since taking office in early 2017, the administration has taken a number of measures that have won plaudits from Israeli officials while infuriating Palestinians, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US embassy in the Jewish state to the city, cutting funding to the United Nations organization that provides aid to Palestinian refugees, and closing the PLO representative office in Washington DC.

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