Wave of Palestine Recognition as EU Figures Out Its Role in Middle East

Wave of Palestine Recognition as EU Figures Out Its Role in Middle East
A French Senator casts his ballot in an urn supporting a motion, at left, during a vote on the recognition of a Palestinian state, at the French Senate in Paris, France, Dec. 11, 2014 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Last week, the French Senate voted to recognize Palestine as a state, following a similar vote by the French National Assembly the week before. With the symbolic measure, which only recommends that the French government recognize Palestine, the French lawmakers join their counterparts in the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, all of whom passed similar nonbinding resolutions in recent weeks. Sweden has gone even further, with the government officially recognizing Palestine, a move which caused Israel to withdraw its ambassador.

The recent groundswell of support in Europe for a Palestinian state comes as European relations with Israel are at an all-time low. “The combination of the fact that the U.S.-backed peace talks have reached a dead end and the conflict in Gaza in the summer produced this feeling in many European countries that the basic way in which the European Union has brokered the conflict over the past 20 years wasn’t bearing any fruit,” says Richard Youngs, senior associate in Carnegie Europe’s Democracy and Rule of Law program.

There is also frustration in Europe with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular. “Many European governments think that they can’t work with Netanyahu,” says Mattia Toaldo, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

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