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Thursday, July 7, 2011

European former leaders call for recognizing Palestinian state

Wafa– European former leaders came out this week in support of Palestinian efforts to get international recognition of their state within the 1967 borders calling on the European Union to support this move.

“In 2009 the Palestinian Authority embarked on a process to complete the building of the institutions of a prospective Palestinian State,” said a statement issued by the former leaders. “The European Union has consistently encouraged and supported this endeavor, both in terms of financial and technical assistance and with respect to the political objective.”

The statement said that as the Palestinian Authority prepares to ask the United Nations and its member states for formal recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over the occupied territories and has identified September 2011 as the conclusion of the state-building process, the EU should support his move.

“Should this request be made, the EU should support it, coupling it with a clear expectation that an independent Palestine would be prepared to conduct negotiations with Israel based on the internationally recognized parameters,” it said.

“A majority of UN Member States have already recognized the Palestinian State but an EU recognition will make the difference,” said the statement signed by over 25 former leaders.

“The signatories of this text see that Europe has no argument to oppose this legitimate demand of the Palestinians. Denying them recognition of independent statehood after having supported and recognized that they have successfully worked towards this objective by building a coherent system of governance and cooperated with Israel on security matters would be contradicting our own positions and policies in a direct and unacceptable manner,” it said.

“European states have already signed up to the declaration within the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee and the World Bank that Palestine is ready for independence. Backtracking from this commitment now would demonstrate inconsistency, weakness and an absence of political will. It would also be to grant a victory to the status quo forces.”

The former leaders said that a growing number of Israelis, former security officials as well as prestigious figures from civil society, “have recently been adding their voices to the choir of those who have endorsed recognition of Palestinian statehood and are calling for an end to occupation.”

The European leaders also endorsed the internal Palestinian reconciliation agreement reached in May between the two main political factions, Fatah and Hamas.

The agreement and a unity government that could be formed as a result, “should not be considered an obstacle; it might even act as an effective lever to encourage the evolution of the Hamas movement in the right direction,” they said.

“European recognition of Palestinian sovereignty and independence, accompanied by the necessary financial support, will anchor the Palestinian polity firmly within the camp of peace and co-existence and enhance the stability of the region. At a moment when the European Union is working to redefine its relations with the societies of the region, Member states should not squander this opportunity to play a positive and meaningful role,” said the statement.

“It is with these political and ethical considerations in mind that the signatories call upon European governments to extend recognition to Palestine in September of this year.”

The signatories included: Hubert Védrine, chairman of the European Former Leaders Group, France; Frans Andriessen, Netherlands; Giuliano Amato, Italy; Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Netherlands; Hervé de Charette, France; Uffe Elleman-Jensen, Denmark; Jean François-Poncet, France; Felipe Gonzales, Spain; Lena Hjelm-Wallén, Sweden; Lionel Jospin, France; Michael Lothian, United Kingdom; Louis Michel, Belgium; Andrzej Olechowski, Poland; Romano Prodi, Italy; Mary Robinson, Ireland; Michel Rocard, France; Jorge Sampaio, Portugal; Pierre Schori, Sweden; Clare Short, United Kingdom; Peter Sutherland, United Kingdom; Erkki Tuomioja (signed before being appointed minister of foreign affairs on June 22nd), Finland; Andreas van Agt, Netherlands; Hans van den Broek, Netherlands; Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Latvia; Richard von Weizsäcker, Germany.