EU ready to recognise Palestine state

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

THE EUROPEAN Union is now prepared to recognise a Palestinian state in the wake of a groundswell of international support for the Palestinians. In a statement issued on Monday, the EU Foreign Affairs Council said it “reiterates its readiness, when appropriate, to recognise a Palestinian state” and that such a state should be “contiguous and viable”.

The EU move follows similar moves by Brazil and Argentina and pledges from Uruguay and France to the Palestinians to follow suit.

EU foreign ministers, who were meeting in Brussels, “noted with regret” Tel Aviv’s failure to prolong the moratorium on Zionist settlement building in the occupied territories. The EU said that the settlements, including in East Jerusalem “are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace” adding that “urgent progress is needed towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.

Last week a group of past EU leaders, including former foreign affairs chief Javier Solana, urged the EU to impose sanctions on Israel for continuing to build settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

The appeal was signed by 10 former European leaders including Romano Prodi and Giuliano Amato of Italy, Richard von Weizsaecker and Helmut Schmidt of Germany, Mary Robinson of Ireland, Felipe Gonzalez of Spain and Norway’s Thorvald Stoltenberg — 10 former ministers and two former EU commissioners. They said Israel “like any other state” should be made to feel “the consequences” and pay a price for breaking international law.

The EU statements may provide a morale boost for the beleaguered West Bank Palestinian authorities, whose attempts to resume peace talks have been blocked by Israel’s intransigence, which in turn, has been openly supported by American imperialism. But, in themselves, the declarations count for nothing.

What influence the EU has in the Middle East boils down to that of Franco-German imperialism. What say British imperialism had was largely lost after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and what influence Britain retains with the oil princes is used mainly to promote the interests of the Americans in the region.

The French and German bourgeoisie are struggling to hold the EU together in the face of the biggest slump since the Second World War. They could threaten to take the “peace process” back to the United Nations Security Council to seek a UN mandate for an imposed settlement. But it would then just get vetoed by the United States and Franco-German imperialism is in no position to directly challenge American hegemony in the Middle East in the near future.

So the EU declaration remains a statement of intent to be implemented when appropriate. No one knows what “when appropriate” means but most assume it simply means when it suits US imperialism and that time is not now.