EU set to recognise Palestinian state, while foreign ministry strike hampers Israeli response

EU set to recognise Palestinian state, while foreign ministry strike hampers Israeli response
Jean Asselborn will put forward the initiative to EU members states at a meeting on Monday, seeking joint European recognition of a Palestinian state.
2 min read
17 February, 2020
Asselborn made a similar call for EU members states to recognise Palestine in December [Getty]

EU members states are set to recognise Palestine as a state, in an initiative put forward by Luxembourg, Israeli media reported on Saturday.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign minister, raised the issue on Sunday evening with a number of his European counterparts, with the goal of seeking a unanimous agreement on recognising Palestine.

The initiative was raised with the foreign ministries of France, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Malta, Sweden and Slovenia, according to sources cited in the report.  

Asselborn's invitation follows a similar call for a mutual recognition of Palestine among EU member states in December last year, after he sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying the only way to save the two-state solution was to create a "more equitable situation" between Israel and the Palestinians.

Read more: Luxembourg urges EU debate on Palestine recognition

The latest development is seen as a direct response to US President Donald Trump so-called 'Deal of The Century', angrily rejected by Palestinians as a capitulation to Israeli demands.

Trump's proposal offers Palestinians limited rule over scattered chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, while granting Israel the go-ahead to annex large parts of the West Bank.

While some member states recognise a Palestinian state along pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, the European Union as a whole still does not. 

When Trump announced the deal, Borrell said it threw into question the prospect of Palestinian statehood "as agreed by both parties, with a State of Israel and an independent, viable state of Palestine, living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition".

Haaretz has also reported that EU member states would also be discussing action to protest the Trump plan in their meeting on Monday.

The EU's intended moves are a cause of worry for Israel, who will likely leverage diplomatic pressure on member states both to reject a mutual decision on recognising Palestine and give Trump's deal "a chance", according to Haaretz.  

The Israeli effort to immediately respond to the EU initiave was hampered after a labour dispute broke out over the weekend by Israeli foreign ministry employees, who are fighting Knesset cuts to their salaries.

Over the weekend, Israeli ambassadors curtailed their work on the issue and refused to comply with directives from the foreign ministry in Jerusalem regarding the EU meeting.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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