Brussels, 15th December, 2014 – Having spent the last two weeks at the UN in New York and the EU in Brussels, ECI has sent an open letter to Members of the European Parliament, as well as to members of the UN Security Council, urging them to reconsider a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.
‘A just and a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be orchestrated in the capitals of Europe or at the UN in New York, but can only come about through direct negotiations between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority’, said ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell in a statement on Monday. ‘The role of the international community is to help facilitate these negotiations, not replace them with unilateral declarations dictating the final outcome’, Sandell added.
On Wednesday, 17th December, on the Jewish holiday of Hannukah, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a non-binding resolution recognising a Palestinian state. Although the recognition would have no immediate political effect, its message would be detrimental to the peace process, Sandell believes.
‘The political message such a recognition would convey is that there is no need for negotiations or compromises on the Palestinian side in order to achieve statehood. This is an illusion’, warns Sandell. ‘The only way to reach a just and comprehensive peace agreement is through negotiations and costly compromises on both sides – not through unilateral declarations.’
The vote comes only weeks after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called for “a day of rage” in Jerusalem which led to the brutal murder of four Jewish rabbis while praying in a synagogue in Jerusalem. Whilst Hamas remains committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, its moderate partner Fatah has also become radicalised in recent weeks, calling the mere presence of Jews on Temple mount “a contamination”. These and other statements of incitement have met with no protests in the EU capital, where parts of the European Parliament now want to rush through a recognition.
‘The EU cannot reward terrorism in one part of the Middle East, whilst trying to fight it elsewhere’, the open letter states. The EU’s main focus should be to fight Islamic radicalisation in the region and not punish the only true democracy and partner for peace.
The vote in the European Parliament is expected to be close. The left-leaning parties are committed to voting for statehood while the centre-right parties, by and large, are opposing it. Last week the second largest party group, the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, signed a new partnership agreement with Fatah, in an effort to further galvanise support for a Palestinian state.
In a similar letter to Ambassadors of Members of the UN Security Council in New York, ECI spells out the objections to a new UN resolution, imposing a solution to the conflict by dictating the conditions for a final peace agreement. The resolution, which is spearheaded by the Jordanians, demands full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within two years and full recognition of a Palestinian state.
The letter is accompanied by an ECI position paper on Palestinian statehood written by ECI legal counsel Andrew Tucker.
‘It is clear that Palestine does not constitute a state under international law, as it violates the first principle of the UN Charter for accepting new members in the UN, namely the commitment to peace’, he notes. ‘You cannot call for the destruction of another UN member state and at the same time apply for UN membership’, he concludes.
‘There can be no peace in the region as long as the UN fails to address the growing incitement against Jews and turns a blind eye to the radicalisation of the Palestinian Authority’, Sandell adds.
There are currently efforts in New York to present the UN resolution on the same day as the European Parliament vote – in other words, on the day of Hannukah.
In little more than a month, on January 27th, the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz will be marked by the UN and the EU.
‘As Europeans, we have a moral obligation to remind the international community of our commitment to the Jewish people by ensuring that they will be able to live in peace and security in their ancestral homeland. If the European Parliament and the UN Security Council support a Palestinian Authority containing elements committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, we have learnt absolutely nothing from history’, Sandell concludes.