Palestine–European Union relations

Bilateral relations
European Union–Palestine relations
Map indicating locations of European Union and Palestine

European Union 22


Relations between the European Union and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) were established in 1975 as part of the Euro-Arab Dialogue.[1] The EU is a member of the Quartet and is the single largest donor of foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority.[2][3][4]

International recognition of Israel and Palestine in Europe.

As of 2020, 9 out of 27 EU member states recognize Palestine. In 2014, Sweden became the first country to recognise Palestine while being an EU member state. Malta and Cyprus had recognized Palestine prior to joining the EU, as did a number of Central European member states when they were allied with the Soviet Union. However, some of these states, like the Czech Republic in particular, have emerged as Israel's closest allies in Europe.[5]


The EU maintains a representative office in Ramallah, accredited to the PNA.[6] The PLO's general delegation in Brussels, accredited to the EU,[7] was first established as an information and liaison bureau in September 1976.[8] Other representations are maintained in almost every European capital, many of which have been accorded full diplomatic status.[1] The EU's special envoy to the Middle East Peace Process is Sven Koopmans.[9]

In western Europe, Spain was the first country granting diplomatic status to a PLO representative, followed later by Portugal, Austria, France, Italy and Greece.[10]

Position on Israeli issues

The EU has insisted that it will not recognise any changes to the 1967 borders other than those agreed between the parties. Israel's settlement program has therefore led to some tensions, and EU states consider these settlements illegal under international law.[11][12]

In 2008, during the French presidency of the Council, the European Union strived to increase cooperation with the US on Middle-Eastern issues, inter alia with a view to coordinating common pressures on Israel.[13]

The EU has also been highly critical of Israeli military actions in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, often referring to them as "disproportionate" and "excessive force" and calling for an immediate cease-fire. During Operation Defensive Shield, the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution calling for economic sanctions on Israel and an arms embargo on both parties. Following the Gaza War, the European Parliament endorsed the Goldstone Report.[14] The EU has also been critical of Israel's Gaza blockade, referring to it as "collective punishment".[15]

Position on recognition

EU first endorsed the idea of Palestinian statehood in its 1999 Berlin Declaration. Before that, the EU and its predecessor, the EC, had since 1973 through various declarations legitimized Palestinian rights in the form of recognizing the Palestinians as "a people", the need for them to have "homeland" and exercising their "right to self-determination".[16]

In July 2009, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana called for the United Nations to recognise the Palestinian state by a set deadline even if a settlement had not been reached: "The mediator has to set the timetable. If the parties are not able to stick to it, then a solution backed by the international community should ... be put on the table. After a fixed deadline, a UN Security Council resolution ... would accept the Palestinian state as a full member of the UN, and set a calendar for implementation."[17]

In December, the Council of the European Union endorsed a set of conclusions on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict which forms the basis of present EU policy.[18] It reasserted the objective of a two-state solution, and stressed that the union "will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties." It recalled that the EU "has never recognised the annexation of East Jerusalem" and that the State of Palestine must have its capital in Jerusalem.[19]

A year later, in December 2010, the Council reiterated these conclusions and announced its readiness, when appropriate, to recognise a Palestinian state, but encouraged a return to negotiations.[20] Eight of its 27 member states have recognised the State of Palestine.

In 2011, the Palestinian government called on the EU to recognise the State of Palestine in a United Nations resolution scheduled for 20 September. Mahmoud Abbas reiterated such calls in Brussels again in early 2018. EU member states grew divided over the issue. Some, including Spain, France and the United Kingdom, stated that they might recognise if talks did not progress, while others, including Germany and Italy, refused. Catherine Ashton said that the EU position would depend on the wording of the proposal.[21] At the end of August, Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak told Ashton that Israel was seeking to influence the wording: "It is very important that all the players come up with a text that will emphasise the quick return to negotiations, without an effort to impose pre-conditions on the sides."[22]

EU member states were divided in their vote on United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19 in 2012, which recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state at the UN. 14 member states voted for, 13 abstained and the Czech Republic voted against.[23]

In 2014, the European Union and the United States officially criticised Israel's settlement policies in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians regard as their de jure capital, and warned against the further construction of Israeli homes on disputed land.[citation needed]

In December 2014, the European Parliament voted in favour of a non-binding resolution calling for the recognition of Palestinian statehood as part of a two-state solution and alongside the development of the peace process with 498 votes in favour, 88 against and 111 abstentions.[24][25] In recent years, many European parliaments including France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Ireland and the United Kingdom have passed motions calling on their governments to recognize Palestine.[26]

On December 9, 2019, new EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said ministers "will deeply discuss the situation in the Middle East" when they meet again in Brussels on January 20, 2020. Ireland and Luxembourg are among a small group of countries that want the issue put on the agenda; in a letter to Borrell, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said that hopes for a two-state solution are "being dismantled piece by piece, day after day," and that it is time to consider recognizing Palestine as a state.[27]

EU Palestine Support

The Palestinian news agency Maan reported in 2011, citing a senior official at the Palestinian Ministry of Planning, that the PA has received about US$20 billion in donor funds since the peace process began. It is estimated that the EU, including individual contributions by its members, has given €10 billion to the Palestinians since the peace process began in 1994. Economic assistance to the PA and the Palestinian people constitutes the EU’s highest per capita foreign aid program.[28] The current framework for EU engagement with Palestine[29] is the "2017-2020 – Towards a democratic and accountable Palestinian State"[30] which includes annual meetings to assess progress.[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b Allen, D. and Pijpers, A. (1984), p 44.
  2. ^ Irish Aid (17 December 2007). "Minister Kitt pledges additional assistance for Palestinians at Paris Donor Conference". Government of Ireland. Retrieved 2011-08-02.
  3. ^ Agence France-Presse (17 November 2009). "Too early to recognise Palestinian state: Bildt". The Local. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
  4. ^ Miller, Rory (2013-04-15). "Progress without Peace: Enhancing the EU's role in Science and Technology in the Palestinian Private Sector". Science & Diplomacy. 2 (2).
  5. ^ Persson, Anders (24 August 2015). "Sweden's Recognition of Palestine: A Possible Snowball Effect?". The Palestine-Israel Journal. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  6. ^ Office of the European Union Representative West Bank and Gaza Strip. "The Role of the Office of the European Union Representative". European Union. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
  7. ^ Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. "Palestine Embassies, Missions, Delegations Abroad". Palestine Liberation Organisation. Archived from the original on 2011-02-25. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
  8. ^ Allen, D. & Pijpers, A. (1984). European foreign policy-making and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 69. ISBN 978-90-247-2965-4.
  9. ^ "New EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process appointed". EU. 29 April 2021.
  10. ^ Katz, J.E. "The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)". EretzYisroel. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
  11. ^ "In Cairo speech, EU's Catherine Ashton very critical of Israeli policies". Archived from the original on 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
  12. ^ McCarthy, Rory (December 1, 2009). "East Jerusalem should be Palestinian capital, says EU draft paper" – via
  13. ^ Tsilla Hershco and Amos Schupak, France, the EU presidency and its implications for the Middle-East Archived 2010-08-22 at the Wayback Machine, The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Volume 3 No 2, July 19, 2009, pp. 63-73
  14. ^ "Despite heavy lobbying, EU parliament endorses Goldstone report". EUobserver. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  15. ^ "EU warns against 'collective punishment' in Gaza". Reuters. 29 October 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  16. ^ Persson, Anders (2015). The EU and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 1971-2013: In Pursuit of a Just Peace. Lanham: Lexington Books. p. 89. ISBN 978-0739192443.
  17. ^ Agence France-Presse (13 July 2009). "Israel rejects EU call for Palestinian state deadline". Hurriyet Daily News. Hurriyet Gazetecilik A.S. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
  18. ^ Sadaka. "The EU and Israel" (PDF). p. 1. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  19. ^ Council of the European Union, "17218/09 (Presse 371)" (PDF), Press release, 2985th Council meeting on Foreign Affairs, Press Office, retrieved 2011-08-02
  20. ^ Council of the European Union, "17835/10 (Presse 346)" (PDF), Press release, 3058th Council meeting on Foreign Affairs, Press Office, retrieved 2011-08-02
  21. ^ Agence France-Presse (28 August 2011). "Palestinians see progress in EU stance on UN bid". France 24. Archived from the original on 29 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
  22. ^ Keinon, Herb (28 August 2011). "Israel looks to influence text of PA statehood resolution". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 31 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
  23. ^ "Why should the EU recognize the State of Palestine?". The New Federalist. February 24, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  24. ^ Beaumont, Peter (17 December 2014). "EU parliament backs Palestinian state 'in principle'". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  25. ^ "European Parliament passes watered-down Palestine resolution". EurActiv. 18 December 2014.
  26. ^ Gëzim Visoka; John Doyle; Edward Newman (12 September 2019). Routledge Handbook of State Recognition. Taylor & Francis. pp. 317–. ISBN 978-1-351-13173-5.
  27. ^ "EU to debate Mideast policy as 2-state solution hopes fade". Associated Press. December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  28. ^ Persson, Anders (2015). The EU and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1971-2013: In Pursuit of a Just Peace. Lanham: Lexington Books.
  29. ^ "European Development Partners and the Palestinian Authority launch the European Joint Strategy in support of Palestine". EU. July 13, 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  30. ^ European Joint Strategy
  31. ^ "Palestinians and Europeans meet to find joint solutions to challenges facing Palestinian Development". EU. August 30, 2019. Retrieved November 4, 2019.

Further reading

  • Musu, Costanza (2010). European Union Policy towards the Arab-Israeli Peace Process. The Quicksands of Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-55312-5.
  • Persson, Anders (2015). The EU and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1971-2013: In Pursuit of a Just Peace. Lanham: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0739192443
  • Persson, Anders (2015). ”Sweden's Recognition of Palestine: A Possible Snowball Effect?”, Palestine - Israel Journal of Politics, Economics, and Culture, Vol, 20, No. 2/3, pp: 35-41.

External links

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