Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

European Parliament supports Palestinian enhanced UN status

European Jewish Press - 22nd November 2012

By Yossi Lempkowicz & Shari Ryness

The European Parliament expressed its support for ďPalestineís bid to become a UN non-member observer" as MEPs consider the move as "an important step in making Palestinian claims more visible, stronger and more effective."

In a paragraph added to a resolution adopted on Thursday at its plenary session in Strasbourg in the immediate aftermath of the Egypt-brokered ceasefire on the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas, the European body called on the EU member states and the international community "to find an agreement in this direction."

At a meeting least Monday in Brussels, EU Foreign Ministers discussed the Palestinian bid, which is expected to be presented to the UN General Assembly on November 29, but without coming out with a common position on the issue which is dividing the 27 member states as several of them oppose "any unilateral move" and rather support the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian direct talks.

Israel for its part warned that the Palestinian move would represent a "severe violation" of the Oslo agreement which stipulates that any point or issue should be discussed by Israel and the Palestinians around the negotationg table.

"The UN move would not help the Palestinians to realize their aspirations for an independent state living side-by-side with Israel," Israelís ambassador to the EU, David Walzer, said last week.

The passing of the clause on the Palestinian UN bid in the resolution, with a large majority, was significantly opposed by several MEPs during the debate Wednesday night, as pro-Israel British Conservative MEP Charles Tannock argued that such enhanced status "will undermine the restarting of peace negotiations.".

Another clause he opposed was similarly passed, as MEPs agreed with the resolutionís premise calling "for the lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, conditional upon an effective control mechanism to prevent the smuggling of arms into Gaza, in recognition of Israelís legitimate security needs."

Adding he was equally unmoved "by the desire to lift the blockade," Tannock contended that it was unlikely "the political guarantees can ensure there will be no maritime smuggling of arms to Gaza, particular from Iran by ship."

The European Parliament strongly condemned the rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip "which Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza must cease immediately" and stressed Israelís right "to protect its population for these kinds of attacks,", as did already the EU Foreign Ministers in their conclusions last Monday.

MEPs urged both sides to comply with the terms of the agreed ceasefire according which "Israel shall stop all hostilities in the Gaza trip (land, sea and air, including incursions by land), while Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities against Israel from the Gaza Strip, including rocket from the Gaza Strip, and called for the effective prevention of arms smuggling into Gaza."

Stressing that peaceful and non-violent means are the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, they called for the "creation of the conditions for the resumption of direct peace talks between the two parties."

The EU parliament reiterated its "strong support" for a two-state solution "on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as capital of both states, and with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security."