EU to Debate Unified Vote on PA Statehood
European Union foreign ministers are gathering in Sopot, Poland this weekend for informal talks on the Middle East. This is the last scheduled meeting before a planned Palestinian Authority bid for UN recognition of a unilateral declaration of statehood.
The ministers are expected to discuss whether or not to vote in unison, and whether to support the PA or Israel.
“The 27 countries of the European Union must express themselves with one voice,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday, addressing French ambassadors.
The EU could be focused on its role vis-a-vis the United States, not just the Middle East, he hinted. “The role of the U.S. is uncontested and irreplaceable, but everybody sees that it is not enough,” he said. “We have to widen the circle of negotiation, think of the role and pertinence of the quartet.”
Sarkozy did not openly suggest which side to vote for, but stated that Europe must not leave the Israel-PA diplomatic process frozen, particularly in light of the “Arab Spring” elsewhere in the Middle East. France has taken an active role in the “Arab Spring” rebellion in Libya.
Several EU countries, among them Spain and Ireland, are expected to support the unilateral creation of a PA state, while several other countries, including Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic, have come out against the unilateral move, expressing support for the diplomatic process instead. France and Britain have both refrained from taking a stance on the PA bid until seeing the resolution.
The PA is hoping to get everything it has demanded in talks with Israel: the entire territory east of the 1949 armistice line, including much of Jerusalem. The disputed territory is currently home to more than 600,000 Israelis and an estimated 1.5 million PA Arabs.
PA leaders are not offering concessions in return, and have continued anti-Israel incitement while preparing for the UN vote.
The EU's weekend meetings will be hosted by Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and by Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.