Palestinian statehood: European Parliament considers initiative to recognize Palestine and 'provide extra impetus towards Middle East peace'

Some MEPs have warned that such a stance could compromise the EU’s role as a neutral negotiator

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The Independent Online

The European Parliament has considered formally recognising a Palestinian state; a wave of support for independent statehood has swept across Europe as the peace process remains deadlocked.

In an impassioned debate lasting nearly three hours, many MEPs urged the assembly to follow the lead of Sweden, whose government passed a resolution in October recognising the existence of a Palestinian state, despite protests from the Israeli government. The British, Irish and Spanish parliaments have passed symbolic motions urging their governments to consider a similar move, and France will debate the question this week. “This parliamentary initiative can provide extra impetus which can finally bring talks to success and peace to the Middle East,” said Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England.

Other MEPs warned that such a stance could compromise the EU’s role as a neutral negotiator. A vote was due on Thursday, but has been postponed until December – partly because of intense lobbying by Israeli diplomats, The Jerusalem Post reported, but partly because of divisions within the EU. Germany is against formal recognition. Even if the vote does pass in December, it will be a symbolic rather than a binding gesture, as formal recognition is up to the 28 governments of the EU.