ANALYSIS: Why the EU vote was not worth the hysteria


The Palestinian Authority and pro-Palestinian activists would like us to believe that their campaign to have Palestine recognised as a state without an agreement with Israel is roaring into life, with resolutions passed in several European parliaments. But a closer look at the motion passed in the EU parliament this week tells a different story.

The EU parliament resolution was a compromise. Rather than recognising Palestine, or calling on EU member states to do so, it "supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced".

Similarly, the resolution in Spain last month linked recognition of Palestine to a negotiated solution with Israel.

The debate around the EU parliament's text reflects a real range of views about the conflict in Europe. Certainly there are politicians who regard the Palestinians as the victims, believe the failure to resolve the conflict is due only to Israeli intransigence, and that the way to break the deadlock is to strengthen the Palestinians and isolate Israel. And there is widespread frustration at the drip, drip of announcements for new construction in settlements.

But there are also many in Europe who see the other side of the story. There are many who understand the lessons of the Gaza Strip are that "ending the occupation" and removing settlements does not automatically bring peace. They appreciate that an arrangement that does not meet Israel's legitimate security needs, and which turns the West Bank into another Gaza Strip - run by violent Islamist extremists committed to war against Israel - would be a catastrophe not only for Israel but for the Middle East and Europe. The rapid expansion of Isis has brought home to many the immediacy of the region-wide threat posed by radical and violent Islamist groups.

Motion links recognition of Palestine state to a negotiated solution

David Cameron restated this week: "We only recognise the state of Palestine when there is a genuine two-state solution - and Israel's future is truly secure." He added: "Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong, it is abhorrent."

It is in Israel's interests to advance towards the creation of a Palestinian state and to break the diplomatic deadlock, a point that is recognised across a swathe of the political spectrum in Israel. But given the instability in the region and the threat of Islamist extremism, there must be security arrangements that keep the West Bank from falling into the hands of Hamas or other like-minded groups.

I visited Brussels last week in advance of the vote to canvass opinions. There is widespread appreciation that a solution cannot be achieved by international resolutions, whether in European parliaments or in the UN Security Council, but only through a process which reconciles the legitimate Palestinian demand for sovereignty with the legitimate Israeli demand for security.

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