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Europeans are set to play the pivotal role in a United Nations vote over Palestinian statehood (expected in late September). With the US already declaring its opposition, the votes of the 27 European Union member states are the big prize.
This pivotal role gives Europeans the chance to inject some vitality into the flagging prospects of a two-state solution for the Middle East. Europeans should unite around a ‘yes’ vote. As European foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday 12th September, they should also engage with the Palestinians and urge them to take account of legitimate Israeli concerns.
The Palestinians are likely to ask the UN General Assembly to upgrade their UN status from ‘observer’ to ‘non-member state’. This is not the same as recognition, which only individual states can bestow upon Palestine.
In a policy memo published by the European Council on Foreign Relations, “Palestinian statehood at the UN: why Europeans should vote ‘yes’”, Daniel Levy and Nick Witney argue that Europeans should vote ‘yes’ because of:
The memo also calls for European foreign ministers to mandate Catherine Ashton to urge the Palestinians to reassure the Israelis over their key concerns in exchange for European support, including recognition of Israel’s existence alongside Palestine.
The Palestinians should also clarify that moves towards statehood would not see them rushing precipitously to the International Criminal Court even if it were to confer jurisdiction at some stage.
The authors deal with various other objections to the vote. Notably, the report argues that despite its own opposition, the US may benefit from this, strengthening its hand in future dealings with Israel.
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