News BlogEU diplomacyIsrael Palestine

Palestine obtains its status as an observer state at the UN. Europeans support

Applause at the end of the vote on Palestine at the UN (Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

(BRUSSELS2) 138 votes for, 41 abstentions, 9 votes against. The majority expressed at the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday (November 29) was clear enough for Palestine to obtain observer state status at the United Nations without much difficulty. After much hesitation, several countries finally joined the “Yes” camp or abstained. Several of the states reluctant to accept the status of Palestine ultimately chose not to be totally negative and to abstain. Which amounts to the same thing in voting but another effect at the political level. Note that the session was chaired by Serbian Minister Vuk Jeremic!

Despite their difference in vote, the statements of the various European foreign ministers were unanimous in wishing for a resumption of the peace process and welcoming the solution. On this point, Europe has avoided the worst: the difference in vote expresses more a difference of approach than a political contradiction. You can read the various declarations from the ministries, linked to the previous one article or below by clicking on the country.

The ripple effect

It is undeniable on this point that the French position, quickly imprinted with a positive vote, led to a seesaw effect in several countries which waited until Thursday (November 29) to display their intention. Italy, Greece and Sweden voted yes. While Germany or the Netherlands, traditional opponents, fell into abstention.

Ultimately 14 countries of the European Union voted yes (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Sweden), 12 abstained (Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom, Slovenia, Slovakia), and only 1 voted against (Czech Republic). This was the only country in Europe to find itself alongside Israel and the United States (with Canada, Tonga, Micronesia); which is quite faithful to a constant position of this State (read: “Defensive” a Czech “error” steeped in history…). Compared to the 11 Yes votes, 11 Abstentions and 5 Against at UNESCO a year ago, we can clearly see the evolution.

We can also draw a lesson from this vote that the European Union manages to take different positions from the United States and not find itself marginalized.

Finally, let us point out that among the members/associates of the EU, declared or potential, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey voted yes. While Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Fyrom/Macedonia (the Balkans in a way) abstained.

The two-state solution

This recognition was quickly greeted Thursday evening (midnight) by Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament. " I see this as an important step towards having a more visible, stronger and more effective Palestinian representation. " did he declare. The democratic institution had already indicated, in a recent resolution, its support for Palestine's candidacy to become a non-member observer state at the UN. And to reaffirm its support for “ a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security..

However warned Schulz: “ Today's vote in the UN General Assembly is in no way a substitute for a negotiated comprehensive political solution acceptable to both parties. We call on both sides to do everything possible to return to the negotiating table and create conditions for the resumption of direct peace talks. »

Read also: Faced with the recognition of Palestine, the Europeans hesitate. But finally a majority votes yes

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).