Israel's left asks Europe to back Palestinian UN bid

Former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg

Former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg

Key figures in Israel's left-wing have called on European leaders to defy Israeli and US wishes and support the Palestinians if they attempt to unilaterally declare statehood at the UN.

In a speech last week President Barack Obama said "symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state", putting his administration in line with the Israeli government's stance on the Palestinian plans.

But in a letter sent this week to European ambassadors in Israel by the far-left Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, influential Israelis, among them a Nobel laureate and an Israel Prize winner, as well as the former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg and Israel's former ambassador to South Africa, expressed their support for a Palestinian bid.

They said: "As Israeli citizens, we announce that if and when the Palestinian people declare independence of a sovereign state that will exist next to Israel in peace and security, we will support such announcement of the Palestinian state, with borders based on the 1967 lines, with needed land swaps."

The signatories also appealed to the international community to recognise such an independent Palestinian state. They added: "In the face of endless procrastination and mutual distrust, a declaration of Palestinian independence is not only legitimate, but also a positive and constructive step for the benefit of the two nations."

Their letter was sent at the same time as another, signed by 60 international lawyers, to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, urging him to prevent a Palestinian unilateral declaration.

    Last updated: 9:03am, May 31 2011