Portuguese parliament urges Palestine recognition

Ruling party, opposition call to vote on recognizing Palestinian state, following similar votes in Ireland, Spain, France, Sweden

A screenshot of the Portuguese parliament voting in 2013. (screen capture: YouTube)
A screenshot of the Portuguese parliament voting in 2013. (screen capture: YouTube)

The Portuguese parliament adopted a recommendation Friday calling on the government to recognize a Palestinian state, drawing votes from the majority and opposition.

The motion, filed jointly by the ruling center-right majority and the opposition Socialist party, proposes “recognizing, in coordination with the European Union, the state of Palestine as independent and sovereign”.

However, Portugal’s Foreign Minister Rui Machete said after the vote the government “will choose the moment best suited” to recognize a Palestinian state, adding that the government was “sensitive to parliament’s call,” and that “Israelis and Palestinians live together on a long-term basis in a peaceful way.”

Portuguese lawmakers who backed the measure believe “only talks can guarantee security and peace in the region.”

A number of European countries have passed motions this year calling for the recognition of Palestinian statehood based on the 1967 lines. The recent pro-recognition wave, which was spearheaded by Sweden and the UK in October, has been welcomed by the PA but tested relations between Israel and the EU. Jerusalem has maintained that recognition should only come once bilateral negotiations produce a two-state solution.

Similar initiatives have also been voted on in France, Spain and Ireland. The European Parliament is expected to vote in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state on December 18.

The motions, however, are largely symbolic in nature and intended to put pressure on both sides to renew peace negotiations, which stalled in April after a nine-month, US-brokered effort.

The Palestinian Authority estimates that 135 countries have now recognized Palestine as a state, although that number is disputed.

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