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Spain joins ranks of EU countries backing Palestine’s status upgrade bid at UN

Published time: November 28, 2012 13:31
Edited time: November 28, 2012 23:51
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, showing a copy of the letter requesting Palestine's full admission to the UN as a sovereign state during the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2011. (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, showing a copy of the letter requesting Palestine's full admission to the UN as a sovereign state during the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2011. (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)

Spain has pledged to support Palestine’s bid for non-member observer status at the UN as the best way to “advance towards peace,” as EU countries continue to voice their position ahead of the UN vote.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo announced that Spain would vote in favor of the resolution at the UN Assembly on Thursday.

“Spain will vote yes tomorrow to be consistent with history and because we believe it is the best way to move towards peace,” declared Margallo in the Spanish Congress on Tuesday. Spain also supported the previous Palestinian statehood bid in 2011.

Margallo justified the Spanish decision to support the Palestinian Authority in its quest for statehood, saying UN backing would reinforce President Mahmoud Abbas’ position in peace negotiations. Israel had previously warned that Spanish approval would have a negative effect on Spain’s influence in future peace talks.

The Mediterranean country will join several other EU member states in their unified support of the Palestinian bid following Israel’s eight-day military incursion on Gaza that ended last week.

Thus far, France, Portugal, Denmark, Austria, Luxemburg, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta have pledged their votes for Palestine.

France was the first major EU country to speak in favor of upgrading Palestinian status from an observer to non-member observer state.

Despite the support, the French Foreign Minister has warned Palestinians against pursuing Israel in the International Criminal Court, calling such a move “counter-productive.”

Belgium, Estonia and Lithuania have decided to abstain from the vote.

Britain also stated it would abstain unless the Palestinian authority reenters peace negotiations with Israel, British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced Wednesday.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has said that it expects at least 15 of the 27 EU countries to throw their support behind the resolution.

The Czech Republic, Holland and Italy have announced they will be voting against it.

Major world powers outside the EU have already stated their position on Palestinian bid, with Russia, China and India supporting the resolution and the US voting against it.

Opposition

The US remains Palestine’s most powerful opposition in its bid for a status upgrade at the UN Assembly. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dismissed the Palestinian Authority’s decision to apply as a “mistake” and warned it could have an adverse effect on US monetary aid being delivered to Gaza.

“With regard to France and any other countries, we obviously disagree with our oldest ally on this issue,” she told reporters. “They know that we disagree with them. But it's their sovereign decision.”

Germany will also vote against the Palestinian bid, a government spokesperson said Wednesday.

Although Israel has not formulated an official response should Palestine’s new status be recognized, growing political rhetoric suggested the government will react strongly to a positive vote.

If Palestine’s upgrade to non-member observer state is recognized by the UN it will represent a significant milestone in the Palestinian Authority’s quest for statehood.

Nour Odeh, a spokeswoman for the Palestinian Authority, explained to RT that in the event of a successful outcome to the vote Palestine would push for full member status.  

“There are many other cases in the previous years and decades where full-fledged states that are not under occupation as Palestine is, it took them several months, several attempts to acquire full membership. What we are optimistic about is that an over whelming majority of the international community now stands ready to support our peaceful step towards recognition,” she said. 

She continued that all Palestinians are unified in supporting the bid with Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad all throwing their voice behind it.  

The UN vote on Thursday will mark the 65th anniversary of the UN decision to divide the territory of Palestine in separate Arab and Jewish states.

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