A number of European parliaments have held symbolic votes recently urging their governments to recognise a Palestinian state comprising the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Israel and the U.S. have strongly opposed such calls, arguing that an independent Palestinian state should only emerge from negotiations with Israel.
Traditionally most Western European governments have supported the Israeli and U.S. position, although European frustrations have become evident over stalled Middle East peace negotiations. European countries have become increasingly critical of Israel, in particular the Israeli settlement expansion. The campaign to demonstrated by the EU push for a ban on Israeli settlement products.
The growing European public support in favour of Palestinian statehood intensified after the destructive Israeli attack on the Gaza strip in the summer of 2014. This increased public support has had a major influence on European governments and the decision of European policy-makers.
The UK parliamentary vote on the issue highlights the development in British and European policy concerning the conflict and the growing trend towards Palestinian recognition. It also implies an alternative to the U.S. domination of the conflict, with the UK and Europe demonstrating a willingness to take action in support of finding a solution to the longstanding problem.
Despite this European countries, still support a negotiated two-state solution and call for the timely return to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Motions falling short of a categorical recognition of Palestine have been criticised by the PLO Executive Committee as such, stating the need to call attention to policy tools and demands that EU actions are consistent with EU policies.
• In September 2011, Mahmoud Abbas, sought full member-state status at the UN based on pre-1967 frontiers. The bid was unsuccessful at the Security Council after the members said they had been unable to "make a unanimous recommendation".
• The Security Council consists of fifteen members, 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States serve as the body's five permanent members.
• On 29 November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to that of a "non-member observer state". Previously, the PLO only had "permanent observer" status.
• The House of Commons voted on 13 October 2014 with overwhelming support by British MPs, who voted to recognise the state of Palestine. The vote was backed 274 votes in favour to 12 votes against.
• In the House of Lords on 29 January 2015, the Peers after long discussion agreed, “that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.
• Sweden became the first Western European nation to officially recognise the State of Palestine on 30 October 2014 and have opened the first-ever Palestinian embassy in Western Europe, in Stockholm on 10 February 2015.
• The Spanish parliament voted to recognise Palestine statehood following a motion on 18 November 2014 with 319 to 2 votes in favour.
• On 2 December 2014 the French National Assembly voted 339 to 151 in a recommendation that Paris recognise a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
• In Ireland the parliamentary motion received cross-party support on 10 December 2014 dispensing the need for a vote on the recognition.
• The Portuguese parliament voted on 12 December 2014 in favour of a recommendation to the government to recognise a Palestinian state.
• Luxembourg’s parliament voted on 17 December 2014 in a similar manner.
• On 17 December 2014, the European Parliament adopted, with 498 votes in favour, 88 against and 111 abstentions a resolution that “supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution,” but notes these should go “hand in hand” with peace talks.
• Recently, the Belgian parliament called on the government to recognise Palestinian statehood “at the most appropriate moment”, in a motion on 5 February 2015.
• The Italian legislature has become the latest European body to back a non-binding resolution supporting the unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood on 27 February 2015. The Italian Parliament voted 300 to 45 in favour, of a motion urging the government to “sponsor the recognition of Palestine,” but “taking fully into account the worries and legitimate interests of the State of Israel.”