EU foreign affiars chief Borrell calls for unified line on Israel and Palestine

Israel AP - Efrem Lukatsky
AP - Efrem Lukatsky

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell on Wednesday urged the 27-member bloc to find common ground after Spain and Ireland joined Norway in announcing they would recognise Palestinian statehood.

The move drew condemnation from Israel which recalled its ambassadors from the three countries.

Several European Union countries have in the past weeks indicated that they plan to make the recognition, arguing that a two-state solution is essential for lasting peace in the region.

"Within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, I will relentlessly work with all member states to promote a common EU position based on a two-state solution," Borrell wrote on social media.

On Wednesday, France said it would not immediately join Ireland, Norway and Spain.

French Foreign Minister Stéphane Sejourné said: "Our position is clear: the recognition of a Palestinian state is not a taboo for France ... France does not consider that the conditions have been present to date for this decision to have a real impact in this process".

Two-state solution

Norway – which is not a member of the EU but mirrors its moves – has been an ardent supporter of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The terror has been committed by Hamas and militant groups who are not supporters of a two-state solution and the state of Israel,” said Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr.

“Palestine has a fundamental right to an independent state.”

Norway's recognition of a Palestine state comes more than 30 years after the first Oslo accords were signed in 1993.

After ordering the ambassadors from Norway, Spain and Ireland, Israel Katz, the Israeli Foreign Minister, said: “Ireland and Norway intend to send a message today to the Palestinians and the whole world: terrorism pays."

He added that the recognition could impede efforts to return Israel's hostages being held in Gaza and makes a cease-fire less likely by “rewarding the jihadists of Hamas and Iran”.

Norway and Spain's recognition of Palestine is due to take effect from 28 May.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Norway's recognition of a Palestinian state and called on other countries to follow. 

In a statement carried by the official Wafa news agency, he says Norway's decision, will enshrine “the Palestinian people's right to self-determination” and support efforts to bring about a two-state solution with Israel.

(With newswires)