The Foreign Minister of Luxembourg has recently called for the rest of Europe to discuss unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state outside of a Middle East peace accord, although the new foreign policy chief of the European Union on Monday called the topic a “very much dividing” issue for the EU. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn sent a letter to the EU’s new top foreign policy official, Josep Borrell, in which he says it’s time to discuss the matter and claims such a move would not be a “blank check” to the Palestinians, according to The Times of Israel, citing a Channel 13 report. The report said the issue is expected to be brought up during the next meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in January.
However, despite Luxembourg being inclined in that direction, Borrell noted it’s not a position Europe even talks about very often—much less agrees upon. “Among European Member States, the recognition of the Palestinian state or the situation in Middle East is something, which is very much dividing,” said Borrell to reporters in comments posted to the EU External Affairs website. “Maybe because of that [it] is not an issue which is often taken into consideration on the agenda of the Council.”
Borrell noted that recognizing a Palestinian state is not something the EU does as an entity, rather it would be up to individual member states to determine their own approach. He confirmed that Middle East peace would be on the Foreign Affairs Council’s agenda next month.
The Times of Israel noted that so far key players in Europe such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany have withheld their blessing on recognizing a Palestinian state.
The issue is a hot topic after the United States leadership announced last month they would reverse course and no longer consider Israeli civilian communities in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria to be inherently illegal. This move drew the ire of Luxembourg’s Asselborn, who in a press release on his country’s Foreign Ministry website called the American move “very worrisome”.
However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the time said that their decision not to consider Israeli settlements illegal would actually help the Middle East peace process. “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law hasn’t worked. It hasn’t advanced the cause of peace,” said Pompeo on November 18 in comments published by the State Department.
“The hard truth is there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace. This is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
Judea and Samaria—territory the Palestinians also claim and call the ‘West Bank’—are home to a number of Biblical sites, including the Jordan Valley, Bethlehem, Jericho, Hebron, and Shechem.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that the US decision reflected “historical fact,” according to a press release from his office summarizing his comments to various foreign officials.
The press release said Netanyahu stated Israelis are “not conquerors of a foreign country, declared that this has been our homeland since the patriarch Abraham came here 3,500 years ago and reminded the parliamentarians that the word ‘Jew’ comes from ‘Judea.’”
The summary said Netanyahu went on to say that Israel is “not trying to expel anyone, neither will anyone expel us.”
He called US President Donald Trump’s determination that Israeli settlements are not illegal to be a “very important contribution to the truth” while asking the visiting officials of more than two dozen nations to “stand alongside Israel and the truth.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, December 9, 2019)