The European Parliament plans to hold a vote on Thursday on a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state, following Sweden’s official decision to do so and symbolic votes in Spain, the UK and Ireland.
The moves reflect mounting frustration in the EU at Israel's expanding settlement program on land the Palestinians want for a state following the collapse of US-sponsored peace talks.
Israel is working to foil the decision, with officials warning that if the motion passes, the country will view Europe’s decision as anti-Israeli.
The parties behind the initiative are the Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D) and the Unified European Left Party (GUE).
After Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine in Octoner, the Social Democrats announced its widespread support of the move, and the president of the center-left party stated that such a decision would be the only solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that it would benefit both parties.
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He claimed that the EU should be more involved in the peace process and recognize Israel and Palestine as two nation states living side-by-side. He also said that the French faction in the European Parliament would push for recognition of a Palestinian state, as well as some other left-wing factions.
The motion is expected to be voted on Thursday by the full European Parliament in Strasbourg. Israel's ambassador to the European Union David Walzer and members of his delegation held urgent meetings recently with the parties' political advisers. The ambassador also held an urgent briefing meeting with dozens of members of the European Parliament.
Commented on the situation in the region, Ambassador Walzer said that the fact that terrorist groups are still operating in the area has an impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, turning it into a religious war conflict which leaves no room for compromises and concessions.
Waltzer also mentioned the tripartite meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan's King Abdullah, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, and stressed that Israel has been taking responsibility and working to calm the tensions, whereas the same cannot be said of the other side.
Waltzer stressed that a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will not help in bringing Netanyahu and Abbas to the negotiation table but will only push the two sides further away.
Possible wording: '67 borders, J'lem as capitalThe GUE group's draft text “urges all EU member states … to recognize the state of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital”.
The European Parliament's decision to recognize the state of Palestine could increase pressure on European member states to follow Stockholm's lead.
Spanish lawmakers recently urged their government to recognize Palestine as a state, albeit only when the Palestinians and Israel negotiate a solution to their long-running conflict. 319 lawmakers voted in favor of the motion, two voted against and one abstained.
France is also eyeing such a non-binding resolution later this month after Sweden's center-left government took the lead by officially recognizing the state of Palestine within days of taking office last month.
Netanyahu warned on Sunday that France's parliament would be making a "grave mistake" if it recognizes a Palestinian state in a vote on December 2.
"Do they have nothing better to do at a time of beheadings across the Middle East, including that of a French citizen?" he told reporters in Jerusalem, referring to hiker Herve Gourdel who was executed by his jihadist captors in Algeria in September.
"The State of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, the only state that we have, and the Palestinians demanding a state do not want to recognise the right to have a state for the Jewish people," Netanyahu told members of Israel's growing Jewish community from France.
A draft of the proposal in France "invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict".
European Parliament's decision to recognize the State of Palestine could increase pressure on member states to follow the Swedish government and to recognize the State of Palestine.
Along with Sweden, three other European legislatures called for their governments to recognize Palestine: Britain, Ireland and Spain. However, their decision to issue only symbolic and not binding. Several other parliaments are going to discuss and vote on the issue, and next in line are France and Denmark.
News Agencies contributed to this report.