Europe parliament grants Palestinians 'partner' status
The European Parliament on Tuesday granted the Palestinian National Council "Partner for Democracy Status," in only the second time such a status has been awarded.
The status aims to strengthen Europe's ties to neighbouring countries and allows "partners" to participate in European assembly proceedings, without voting rights. It was granted for the first time ever in June to Morocco.
The status "creates new opportunities for the Palestinian people," said Dutch European lawmaker Tiny Kox, in a statement issued by the Strasbourg-based body.
Selim al-Zanoun, speaker of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), called the move "historic." The PNC is the legislative arm of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
The status will be reviewed in two years.
In the intervening period, the European Assembly will monitor Palestinian moves in several areas, including "refraining from violence, rejecting terrorism (and) recognising the right of Israel to exist," the statement said.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas last month submitted a request to the United Nations seeking full membership status, a move the US has vowed to block.
© 2011 AFP