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  • Protester with Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli army at Qalandia checkpoint near occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Oct. 6, 2015.

    Protester with Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli army at Qalandia checkpoint near occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Oct. 6, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 September 2018

Josep Borrell, Spain's foreign minister, addressed the EU at a conference of European Union leaders in Austria Tuesday pushing for the union to recognize independent Palestine.

Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell said Thursday that the Spanish government will promote a motion in the European Parliament  to recognize Palestine as an independent state. If the move fails, the Pedro Sánchez-led government will consider a Spain-only recognition.

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Left-wing parties in Spain are reportedly pressuring Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez to recognize the Palestinian state; however, opponents claim that if the country takes that step, Israel could recognize independent Catalonia in retaliation.

In 2017, the Spanish government in Madrid headed by Former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged Israel to officially announce that they would not recognize Catalonia as independent, but Israel did not take side with either party.

Despite this warning from opponents, Borrell said that he will launch an “intensive” consultation process with his counterparts in Europe to set a timetable for achieving a common position on the issue.

According to the Palestinian Authority, 139 countries recognize Palestine as an independent state. The European Union has disagreements over a unilateral move of this kind. The EU official position supports a two-state solution, the details of which will be achieved through negotiations between the sides.

A delegation from the European Parliament tried to enter Gaza Strip to learn more about the humanitarian situation in the territory but were banned from entering by Israel Wednesday. Israel has repeatedly denied the delegation access to visit the Strip since 2011 and the Palestinian parliament has condemned the ban.

“The delegation had formally requested clearance to enter the Gaza Strip as part of a three-day mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The purpose of the visit is to monitor the humanitarian situation caused by a decade of blockade, assess the destruction in the area following the armed conflicts, evaluate reconstruction efforts, and visit a number of development projects funded by the European Union. This includes a newly-constructed desalination plant providing fresh water to 75,000 people,” said an EP press release.

The Delegation for Relations with Palestine, headed by Neoklis Sylikiotis, arrived in the West Bank Tuesday and was scheduled to visit Gaza Thursday but was denied an entry permit.

Calling for an immediate end to the blockade, Neoklis Sylikiotis said, “Denying the European Parliament entry to Gaza has become systematic. It is arbitrary and unacceptable. For years, Israeli authorities have prevented us from meeting with Palestinians in Gaza and witness the situation for ourselves, despite the need to assess the humanitarian and development aid provided by the European Union and European governments that keeps Gaza afloat. It is clear that Israel is ashamed and afraid of letting us witness the dire situation that the people of Gaza live in today.”

In January, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state with its 1967 borders.


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