Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn during a European Union meeting, September 2018. (Aris Oikonomou/AFP via Getty Images)

Luxembourg Urges EU to Recognize Palestine

Luxembourg foreign minister believes the recognition by all EU member states will protect the two-state solution that is at risk due to Washington’s policies

Luxembourg Foreign and European Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn affirmed on Sunday that his country supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and called on all European Union member states to jointly recognize the State of Palestine. This, he said, would help keep the solution viable following Washington’s recent statements on the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“The time has come to raise the profound issue of recognition of the Palestinian state by the European Union,” Asselborn said in an interview on Palestine TV. “The answer has always been that the union doesn’t recognize collectively, but each state recognizes individually. However today, we are facing a new scenario. Therefore, we have to discuss this issue seriously.”

This comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on November 18 that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law” – a reverse of longstanding US policy going back to the Carter administration.

Ammar Hijazi, the Palestinian assistant minister for multilateral affairs, told The Media Line that the Luxembourg foreign minister’s call is a step in the right direction that should be taken by all European countries that believe in peace through a fair solution, “especially amid complete absence of international leadership to end the occupation and enable the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate rights.”

Hijazi pointed out that the move would preserve the two-state solution and correct the historic mistake of depriving the Palestinian people of their right to independence on their own land.

“It’s shameful that there are countries that don’t recognize Palestine as a state until today, and at the same time claim to support the two-state solution. It doesn’t make any sense. Countries should rush their recognition of Palestine as a state and take actions on the ground by boycotting settlements products and holding the occupation accountable for its crimes, as it’s the shortest road to achieving peace and stability,” he said.

Hijazi stressed that the American “bias toward Israel” destroyed the foundations and rules of international multilateral action and international relations that are built on respect for the rule of law. “It also reveals a historical bias in favor of occupation and colonialism. Giving a pass to this American and Israeli colonial project in the region will undermine confidence in international law and international legitimacy as well.”

Regarding Pompeo’s announcement, the Luxembourg foreign minister said: “Here we must recall the essence of international law – it is based on the force of law and not on the law of force. We must also recall Security Council Resolution 2334 of 2016, which clearly obligates Israel to stop settlement activity and respect the 1967 borders.”

“I was surprised to hear that the settlements are no longer a violation of international law, which means that the two-state solution no longer exists,” he added.

When reached by The Media Line, the spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the matter.

Alon Pinkas, a foreign relations expert and former Israeli consul general in New York, told The Media Line that Asselborn’s idea of joint recognition of Palestinian statehood by all EU member states could be implemented but that it was too early to judge, as larger EU countries had not yet stated their positions on the matter.

Pinkas agreed that the move was a reaction to what some see as an American bias toward Israel, but he said that it’s also consistent with longstanding EU positions. “The move hasn’t backfired because no one cares about it in Israel. The country is headed to elections in early March; until then, no one cares.”

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