Palestine gets first Western recognition
REYKJAVIK, Iceland / JERUSALEM
Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas applauds in this photo as he reaffirms Palestine’s bid for UN membership saying it should complement peace negotiations. AP PhotoIceland has become the first Western European country to recognize Palestine as an independent state, its government said Nov. 29. Parliament said in a statement on its website that it had passed the motion with 38 of 63 votes in favor of a resolution to recognize Palestine “as an independent and sovereign state” based on borders predating the Six Day War of 1967.
“Iceland is the first country in Western Europe to take this step,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Ossur Skarpheinsson told RUV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. He said the vote has given him the authority to make a formal declaration on the government’s behalf, but before doing so he will discuss the move with other Nordic countries.
The resolution, which coincided with the United Nation’s annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the legal authority for a Palestinian state and urged Israel and Palestine to reach a peace agreement.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas meanwhile reaffirmed Palestine’s bid for U.N. membership Nov. 29, saying it should complement peace negotiations provided that Israel is prepared to negotiate on the basis of 1967 borders.
He said Palestine’s decision to apply to join the United Nations “is our legitimate right” based on the 1947 U.N. resolution to partition Palestine into two states. “We do not want and we do not seek to delegitimize Israel by applying for membership in the United Nations, but to delegitimize its settlement activities and the seizure of our occupied lands,” Abbas said.
A senior Hamas official furthermore accused Abbas of derailing an agreement to unify the dueling Palestinian governments. Mahmoud Zahar told the London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat that “reconciliation will not be achieved at all” because Abbas “is not interested in achieving it.” He says Abbas is balking because the U.S. and Israel oppose his reconciliation with the militant Hamas.