Iceland to recognize Palestine
Photo: Reuters
Iceland votes to recognize Palestine
Iceland 'first Western European country to take this step,' FM boasts; Abbas reaffirms statehood bid

Iceland's parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of recognizing the Palestinian territories as an independent state, the first Western European country to do so according to Iceland's foreign minister.


The vote paves the way for formal recognition by the small north Atlantic island, which led the way in recognizing the independence of the three Baltic States after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991.


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"Iceland is the first Western European country to take this step," Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson told Icelandic state broadcaster RUV. "I now have the formal authority to declare our recognition of Palestine."


The Icelandic parliament decided by 38 votes in the 63-seat house to back a resolution allowing for the recognition of a Palestinian state within the borders of the Six-Day War of 1967.


"At the same time, parliament urges Israelis and Palestinians to seek a peace agreement on the basis of international law and UN resolutions, which include the mutual recognition of the state of Israel and the state of Palestine," said the resolution, proposed by the foreign minister.


It also called on all sides to cease any violence and recalled the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.


Abbas: It's our legitimate right

Iceland's recognition, however, is expected to amount to a little more than symbolic step as the Palestinian Authority strives to get United Nations recognition. Its quest for a seat at the international body has so far failed.


Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed his bid for UN membership on Tuesday, saying it should complement peace negotiations provided that Israel is prepared to negotiate on the basis of 1967 borders.


He said that the Palestinian Authority's decision to apply to join the United Nations "is our legitimate right" based on the 1947 UN resolution to partition Palestine into two states.


"We do not want and we do not seek to delegitimize Israel by applying for membership in the United Nations, but to delegitimize its settlement activities and the seizure of our occupied lands," Abbas said.


Reuters and Associated Press contributed to the report






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