SHAFAQNA – Portugal’s parliament on Friday adopted a resolution calling on the government to recognise the Palestinian state, following a growing number of similar votes around Europe. Parliament’s motion, filed jointly by the ruling centre-right majority and the opposition Socialist party, proposed “recognising, in coordination with the European Union, the state of Palestine as independent and sovereign”.
However, Portugal’s Foreign Minister Rui Machete said after the vote the government “will choose the moment best suited” to recognise the Palestinian state.
But he said the government was “sensitive to parliament’s call,” that “Israelis and Palestinians live together on a long-term basis in a peaceful way.”
Portuguese lawmakers who backed the measure believe “only talks can guarantee security and peace in the region.”
Initiatives like Portugal’s form part of a trend in Europe towards recognition, until recently seen as the goal of negotiations, but now seen as a means of exerting pressure on Israel to relaunch the moribund peace process.
France’s upper house voted Thursday to urge its government to recognise Palestine, which came hard on the heels of an similar motion in the Irish parliament on Wednesday.
Lawmakers in Britain and Spain have already passed their own motions and Sweden has gone even further, officially recognising Palestine as a state, in a move that prompted a furious Israel to recall its ambassador.
– ‘Hindering peace’ –
The French Senate vote drew a swift and angry response from Israel, which said it “hinders the possibility to advance towards peace and sends a wrong message to the Palestinians, who do not wish to negotiate.”
Palestinians are seeking to achieve statehood in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank with east Jerusalem as the capital.
With little progress on reaching a settlement, they have been lobbying foreign powers for international recognition.
The Palestinian Authority estimates that 135 countries have now recognised Palestine as a state, although that number is disputed.
The Palestinians, who since 2012 have observer status at the United Nations, are currently carrying out a vast international campaign and want to submit to the UN Security Council a text demanding the end of the Israeli occupation in November 2016.
In 2011 the Palestinians were admitted as a member state of UNESCO, the UN education and scientific body, a move with prompted the United States to suspend its payments to the international organisation.
These votes across Europe come as tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been building since the summer.
On Friday a Palestinian threw acid at a family of Israelis who were picking up a hitchhiker in the West Bank. The Palestinian was shot and wounded.
The burning alive in July of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem, a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank, sparked months of unrest and led to a bloody 50-day summer war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas.
Israel blamed Hamas for the Israeli murders, and rounded up hundreds of its members in the West Bank.