Spanish parliament calls on government to recognize Palestine

Nonbinding motion says recognition depends on negotiated peace; Israel says the move pushes a deal further away

The Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish Parliament (Photo credit: Public Domain, Spanish Government/Wikimedia Commons)
The Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish Parliament (Photo credit: Public Domain, Spanish Government/Wikimedia Commons)

Spain’s Congress unanimously passed a nonbinding motion calling on the government to recognize Palestinian statehood, but added that it must be reached through negotiations with Israel.

The text passed Tuesday by the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house, was the result of lengthy negotiations on the precise wording of the draft motion between the ruling Popular Party and the opposition Socialist Workers’ Party, which filed the motion last month.

The motion calls on the government to “recognize Palestine as a state” but also adds that such recognition “must be the result of a negotiation process between the parties that guarantees peace and security for both.”

The Popular Party, which has 185 seats out of 350 in the Spanish Congress, said hours before the vote that it would support recognition of a Palestinian state only if it is the result of talks with Israel.

Israel and the United States also maintain that the recognition of a Palestinian state should be the result of talks between the parties.

The future Palestinian state is described in the motion as “a sovereign, democratic and independent state,” the Cadena SER radio network reported. The original draft filed by the Socialist Workers’ included the word “contiguous,” but it was dropped from the approved text.

Daniel Fernandez of the Spanish pro-Israel ACOM group told JTA that he considered the vote a “major achievement” because “what started out as a pro-Palestinian initiative basically became an endorsement of Israel’s policy.”

However, Israeli officials condemned the move, with sources in the Foreign Ministry telling Ynet News it constituted “a serious error in the management of conflict resolution.

“When the Palestinians are led to believe, even erroneously, that they can achieve everything they want without coming back to talks and without [making] the required compromises — all that is actually achieved is the further postponement of the Palestinians’ return to the negotiating table,” the sources said.

The vote came after an attack early that day at a Jerusalem synagogue that saw two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers kill four people before being shot dead. The vote had been planned beforehand.

“It is not binding, it does not set a timeline for the recognition, it gives the government the margin to proceed with the recognition when it feels it will be opportune,” Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said in Brussels on Monday.

“If we want to be effective this recognition must be done in coordination with the European Union,” he added.

The motion follows moves in other European countries intended to increase pressure for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Britain’s House of Commons and Ireland’s upper house both approved nonbinding motions recognizing the state of Palestine without any reference to negotiations as a condition. Neither government has heeded that call.

French lawmakers are to vote on November 28 on a similar proposal by the ruling Socialist party urging the government to recognize Palestine as a state.

Sweden’s new left-leaning government went a step further and officially recognized a Palestinian state on October 30, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm.

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