EU seeks to avoid UN vote on Palestinian state

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EU seeks to avoid UN vote on Palestinian state

Europe on Monday pressed the Mideast diplomatic Quartet to coax Israelis and Palestinians back to peace talks before a UN vote.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 18 Jul 2011, 11:58 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:06 PM

European Union foreign ministers adopted conclusions stressing that “urgent progress is needed towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“The EU reiterates its concern at the continuing stalemate in the Peace Process and calls on the parties to show the highest sense of responsibility and to resume direct and substantive talks,” they said after meeting in Brussels.

The ministers voiced their concerns days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN chief Ban Ki-moon failed to agree on a common statement.

“The EU stresses the central role of the Quartet and fully supports the High Representative (Ashton) in her continued efforts for the Quartet to create a credible perspective for the re-launching of the peace process,” they said.

Ashton said envoys from the Quartet — comprised of the EU, United States, United Nations and Russia — were still trying to draft a statement.

“We are still working in the Quartet to see if we can pull together a statement,” she said. “It’s not easy because the purpose of this statement is to get the talks going again, so it needs to be very inclusive.”

The Palestinians have been looking to seek statehood at the UN General Assembly in September amid a long stalemate in negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

But the United States has threatened to use its veto power against the move.

In the 27-nation EU, Germany and Italy have opposed the Palestinian efforts while France and Spain have indicated they might recognise a Palestinian state.

The diplomatic consequence of a UN vote on a Palestinian state could be far-reaching.

It could prompt the US Congress to cut off aid to the Palestinians while Israel and the United States could end up isolated in their positions. And the EU would have to deal with its own internal divisions.

Ashton sought to play down the risks involved in any UN resolution on a Palestinian state.

“I don’t think it’s a diplomatic tragedy for us and we don’t yet know what the resolution will be,” she said.

EU states, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, are “reserving our position for the moment” on the possible recognition of a Palestinian state.

“We will see of course what happens over the coming weeks,” Hague said. “We want Israelis and Palestinians to return to direct talks.”

He added: “The position on recognition is one that we will decide on if necessary come September, but it is far preferrable for talks to resume.”

US President Barack Obama moved closer to the EU’s position in May when he voiced support for a two-state solution based on borders dating before the Six Day War of 1967, with possible territory exchanged in negotiations.

But at talks in Washington last week, Russia, the UN and the EU rejected a US proposal that was “throwing off balance the parametres for negotiations proposed by Europe,” said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

Juppe cited among the problems demands to “mention a Jewish state.” This Israeli demand has yet to be accepted by the Palestinians.

“As far as I know, in Israel today there are Jews but there are also Arabs,” Juppe said.

Diplomats said a potential compromise would be a reference to a UN resolution from 1947 which mentioned at the time independent Arab and Jewish states.

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