EU Urges Peace Talks Ahead of Statehood Vote

EU foreign affairs chief says stalled talks demand a 'sense of urgency,' as the bloc readies to vote on recognizing 'Palestine.'

Arutz Sheva Staff, | updated: 19:25

Federica Mogherini
Federica Mogherini

New EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) Wednesday to resume direct peace talks, as the European Parliament debated whether to recognize a Palestinian state, AFP reports. 

MEPs will hold a symbolic vote in December, following resolutions passed by the British and Spanish parliaments, and an official decision to recognize Palestine by the Swedish government.

France's National Assembly is set to vote on a non-binding resolution on December 2.

The Middle East process restarted in July 2013 but has been on hold since April, with tensions and violence mounting again dramatically in recent weeks.

"The sense of urgency is getting higher and higher in the absence of a political context," Mogherini told lawmakers at the start of what she said was a "timely" debate.

"There has to be a direct dialogue."

The former Italian foreign minister, who has taken over as diplomatic chief of the 28-nation European Union, said the bloc was ready to "play a role" in moving the peace process forward.

She also reiterated her support for a two-state solution to resolve the crisis.

The European Parliament was initially due to vote on Thursday on the motion to recognize a Palestinian state but it was postponed until December at the last minute.

Last month, Sweden became the first official EU country to recognize the "State of Palestine," prompting its ambassador to be recalled from Jerusalem in retaliation. 

However, it is unclear how binding that decision is, as Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem admitted Monday that it would not open an embassy in Ramallah following the announcement. 

"Nobody has opened an embassy in Ramallah, and we think that this can be managed by the consulate in Jerusalem, which is a satisfactory solution for us," Wallstroem told public radio.

Meanwhile, the UK's own recognition of a "Palestinian state" in a landslide vote of 274 to 12 in October has sparked uproar from local politicians and Israeli ministers alike - with Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz blaming the move specifically for an upswing in terrorism. 

The opposition has not deterred a trend of declaring the PA a "state." however, and Spain became the third nation to officially vote to recognize the PA as a country last week.