Spain moves towards recognizing Palestine

A vote in the Spanish parliament next week could see Spain follow the lead of UK and France in moving towards a recognition of Palestine as the Spanish government joins a European Union drive to back a two-state peace deal between Israel and Palestine.

Spain moves towards recognizing Palestine
Spain's possible recognition of a state called Palestine would be carried out in a coordinated manner with the European Union. Photo: AFP

Spain could officially recognize Palestine as a state without a prior accord with Israel if current peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine don't bear fruit, Spain's foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo said on Thursday.  

Spain's lower house is set to see a debate next Tuesday on the issue of the recognition of Palestine in a motion put forward by the country's main opposition party, the Socialists.

The Socialists want the Spanish government to "recognize Palestine as a State" arguing that a lasting peace agreement between Israel and Palestine is only possible in the context of the "coexistence of two states".  

Spain's recognition of Palestine should be carried out in a "coordinated manner with the European Union", the Socialist-backed motion adds.

The Spanish foreign minister is not against the plans of the Socialists, according to sources contacted by Spain's El País newspaper.

However, no time frame has been set for such a recognition, and Spain's top diplomat on Thursday also stressed the EU would have to move in a coordinated manner on the issue.

García-Margallo also said he was not in favour of a purely "symbolic" recognition of Palestine and said issues including the setting of borders and the status of Jerusalem would have to be addressed before that recognition took place.

"Spain will recognize Palestine when we believe it will favour negotiations or when we believe those negotiations aren't moving ahead," he said a meeting of the Association of European Journalists on Thursday.

Spain's plans come two weeks after the Swedish government officially recognized Palestine, the first EU member state to do so. Poland and Hungary did so before joining the bloc.

France's National Assembly is due to debate a motion on November 28th urging the French government to recognise an independent Palestine.

The UK's parliament's lower house and the Irish senate have also recently passed symbolic motions recognizing the state of Palestine.

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