Home Brussels EU’s Charles Michel backs recognition of Palestinian statehood

EU’s Charles Michel backs recognition of Palestinian statehood

by editor

While European governments remain split over when — or whether — to recognize Palestinian statehood, European Council President Charles Michel said he would support the move.

“I am in favor of the two-state solution and in favor of the recognition of a Palestinian state,” the European Council chief told Euronews. “But this state has to be viable. And it is why I think that the best would be a coordinated approach with EU member states and third countries, so that there is leverage.”

Michel said the recognition should come as a way for the EU to ask for “important steps in terms of reforms.”

So far, the bloc has united behind calls for a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of all Israeli hostages held by Hamas, alongside the need to provide more humanitarian aid to the coastal enclave and ensure all parties respect international law.

However, the statehood issue has been one on which European leaders have struggled to see eye to eye. The governments of Spain, Ireland and Norway have in recent weeks moved to recognize Palestinian statehood, which triggered fury in Israel. Sweden was until recently the only country to have recognized Palestine while being a member of the EU. Some EU countries — Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Hungary, Malta, Romania, Poland and Slovakia — took the step before joining the Union.

“Recognizing the Palestinian state is not a gift to Hamas, quite the contrary. Reinforcing the Palestinian Authority is not reinforcing Hamas; quite the contrary. It’s aimed at giving greater strength to the part of Palestinian society which we recognize and with which we work,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said last week.

“Recognizing the Palestinian state is not a gift to Hamas, quite the contrary. Reinforcing the Palestinian Authority is not reinforcing Hamas,” said EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell. | François Walschaerts/AFP via Getty Images

Michel’s comments come at a moment of heightened tension.

Last week, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Israel must immediately halt its offensive in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, and open the Rafah border crossing to allow humanitarian aid to enter the enclave unimpeded. On Sunday — days after the ruling — Israel launched an air attack on an encampment of displaced Palestinians in Rafah, killing at least 45 people. The strikes were broadly condemned by EU leaders.

Michel, whose term as European Council president ends on December 1, has been criticized in the past by EU countries for overstepping on EU foreign policy before member countries have reached unanimity, for example on the accession timing of Ukraine.

In Michel’s country Belgium, political parties are in disagreement with each other on whether or not to recognize a state of Palestine. The country is set to head to the polls for parliamentary elections on June 4.

The Belgians, who currently hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU are seeking to find a middle ground between the 27 EU countries, according to a so-called non-paper seen by POLITICO.

In the document, which was distributed among EU countries ahead of the meeting of the bloc’s foreign affairs ministers on Monday, Belgium suggests agreeing on certain steps before moving forward to a coordinated recognition.

“Since Palestine can only be recognized as a state once, we consider that a recognition must take place at a time when it has a maximum positive impact on a lasting peace in the region,” the document reads.

Source link

Related Posts