EU needs 'one voice' on Palestinian statehood: Sarkozy

31st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that the European Union should decide en bloc whether and when to recognise the Palestinian Authority's bid for United Nations recognition as a state.

"I hope that the 27 countries of the European Union speak with a single voice. We should live up to our responsibilities together," Sarkozy told an annual conference of France's top diplomats.

The Palestinians leadership plans to formally submit a request for United Nations membership on September 20 when world leaders begin gathering in New York for the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.

This comes after direct peace talks with Israel ran aground late last year in a dispute over Jewish settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.

The situation on the ground has since worsened, with renewed settlement building in East Jerusalem and periodic rockets attacks on Israeli targets by Palestinian militants based in the Gaza Strip.

Israel implacably opposes such a statehood move, saying negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict and establish a Palestinian state, a position backed strongly by would-be Middle East peacebroker the United States.

France and some other European states have been more sympathetic to the Palestinians' frustration, but Paris wants to head off a diplomatic showdown that could finish off the already paralysed peace process.

© 2011 AFP

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