Denmark to Debate Recognition of 'Palestine'

Danish parliament to hold first reading of a motion calling for the recognition of “Palestine”, according to MP Holger K. Nielsen.

Ben Ariel,

Danish MP Holger K. Nielsen
Danish MP Holger K. Nielsen

The Danish parliament will debate a motion calling for the recognition of “Palestine” as a state on Thursday, the Ma’an news agency reports.

Danish MP Holger K. Nielsen, one of the main drivers behind the initiative in Denmark, told the news agency that the first reading will take place Thursday before a potential vote in the second reading, which could take place in early 2015.

The motion was introduced by the Red-Green Alliance, the Socialist People's Party, and Greenland's Inuit Ataqatigiit, three small left-wing parties.

It calls on the government to recognize “Palestine as a state within the 1967 borders”, according to Ma’an.

"I think there is strength now among European countries tired of Israel's attitude to negotiations and it is therefore more important now to put pressure on Israel," said Nielsen.

Nielsen said it will be "difficult" to get a majority in the Danish parliament, which may even vote against it. But he thinks debates like these aim to raise public awareness and have notably changed national attitudes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Public opinion has changed (in Denmark) today compared to 10 years ago. Our aim is to change the situation so the Danish public understands the conflict," he told Ma’an.

A former Danish adviser at the EU parliament told Ma'an that while the vote in Denmark won't change the realities on the ground, it is a step in the right direction.

"The Danish vote is part of larger picture where a lot of Europeans are getting fed up with Israel's rejectionism and continued settlement building. Parliaments in a lot of EU countries are reacting to this and putting Palestinian statehood to a vote out of concern for the two-state solution," the adviser said.

The Danish debate comes a week before the EU parliament is due to vote on recognizing “Palestine” as a state on December 17.

A staffer in the European parliament told Ma'an that the vote was extremely tight at the moment, with signs that there could be no majority for any text at all.

The Danish vote follows a series of similar votes in Europe in recent months, the latest of which occurred on Wednesday in Ireland, where lawmakers urged their government to recognize “Palestine” as a state in a symbolic motion that sailed through parliament unopposed.

British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on October 13 in favor of a non-binding motion to "recognize the state of Palestine"; Sweden announced on October 30 it officially recognized the state of "Palestine"; and several weeks ago, Spanish lawmakers adopted a motion calling on the government to recognize a Palestinian state.

A similar vote is planned in Belgium, where legislators are working on a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state, though the government said last week any timing to proceed will depend on European Union action.

A group of Israeli leftists has been pressuring European parliaments to recognize the "State of Palestine" alongside Israel.

The left-wing initiative has so far collected signatures of some 800 Israelis. The letter, which was sent Sunday, says, "We, the citizens of Israel who want security and peace, are concerned with the political stalemate and the ongoing occupation and settlements, which has led to conflicts with the Palestinians and torpedoed any chance possibility of an agreement."

"It is clear to us that the chances of Israel's survival and its security depend upon the creation of the State of Palestine, based on the 1967 borders as well as Israel's recognition of Palestine and Palestine's recognition of Israel."