November 24, 2014
Manfred Weber (EPP Group President), Cristian Dan Preda (EPP Lead Negotiator), Jan-Willem Vlasman (Advisor)
We are writing about the draft resolution for recognition of the new Palestinian State that the EPP group is now discussing. We urge you to frame a clear, positive text for immediately recognising the Palestinian Sate alongside the State of Israel, to negotiate the joint resolution on the same basis and then to pass it with a good majority in Parliament.
The essence of the issue is that the Palestinians have a right to self-determination no less than Israeli’s right to it. They are corollaries. The State of Israel is legally legitimate, but only within the 1967 borders. Both the legitimacy and territorial limitation are beyond doubt. The corollary is that the Palestinians’ claim to a state in all the rest of British Mandate Palestine, i.e. the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, is also legitimate beyond doubt. This has been confirmed by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s upgrading to “Observer State” status in the United Nations, based on the 1967 borders, in 2012.
Both the World Bank and the IMF reported in 2011 that Palestine’s institutions were ready for statehood. The High Representative responded that “The Palestinian Authority has made significant progress on this state-building agenda. Today Palestinian institutions compare favorably with those in established states.” Palestine has all the attributes of a state, with functioning institutions worthy of a state, except as Israel is preventing the full exercise of Palestinian sovereignty by its continuing occupation. The occupation is for Israel’s own benefit, not to help the Palestinians develop. That is clear from the settlement project which has placed 550,000+ settlers in the OPT at a cost of billions of dollars.
Israel has objected to Palestine being recognised as a state, supposedly because this should be an outcome of negotiations. That is a self-serving argument in its interest of continuing the occupation. As the American officials involved have admitted, the Israeli government was responsible for wrecking the Kerry negotiations. If only this Israeli government realised it, ending the occupation would secure Israel’s own long-term future as a democracy.
Israel does not have a right of veto over Palestinian self-determination. The European Parliament has already accepted Palestine’s right to statehood by virtue of supporting the two-state solution. It should now go the whole way and vote to recognise the new state. 134 countries have already recognised the Palestinian state. The European Union should now join them. A positive vote in the European Parliament will hasten that day.
Palestinian statehood is not a substitute for negotiations with Israel. Rather it will put the negotiations on a fairer basis by reducing the extreme imbalance of power that has characterised them thus far. Border modifications and all the other core issues can only be negotiated successfully on a more level playing field on which Israel is not able to frustrate agreement along the internationally legitimate parameters.
Dror Feiler, Chair of EJJP and Judar for Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred (Stockholm).
Arthur Goodman, Diplomatic and Parliamentary Liaison officer, JFJFP (London)