Palestinians urge Spain, EU to recognise state
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki on Thursday urged Spain and the rest of the European Union to recognise a Palestinian state with borders from before the 1967 Six Day War.
Since the collapse of peace talks with Israel last year, the Palestinians have campaigned to gain recognition of statehood and UN membership when the General Assembly meets in New York in September.
"We hope the European Union will take a decision to collectively recognise a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders," Malki told a conference in Madrid during an official visit that began Friday.
"We have the hope that Spain will lead the EU countries in the official recognition of the Palestinian state," he said, calling on Madrid to take an "active role" in persuading other members.
Recognition of statehood would "guarantee the two-state solution and provide a firm and solid basis for the immediate start of negotiations" with Israel, Malki said.
Peace negotiations have been on hold since late September 2010 when the Israelis refused to renew a partial freeze on building Israeli settlements on land that the Palestinians want for their future state.
The question of recognising a Palestinian state at the UN looks set to divide EU nations, with Germany for the moment opposed and France not excluding recognition.
"If there is no unanimity in the European Union, each EU country should have the right to decide whether it is ready to recognise the Palestinian state," as had happened with Kosovo, Malki said.
Spain's secretary of state for foreign affairs, Juan Antonio Yanez Barnuevo, said Thursday that Madrid "unreservedly" supported efforts to return to the negotiating table and achieve peace.
Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh said in Ramallah that the Palestinians will seek UN recognition and membership regardless of whether there is a resumption of peace talks.
© 2011 AFP