Synagogue Atrocity Won’t Deter EU’s Drive to Recognize ‘Palestine’
Despite the controversial decision to officially recognize the state of Palestine three weeks ago, the Swedish government will not open an embassy on Palestinian territory according to Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
In an interview given to Sweden’s Public Radio this week, Wallström noted that no country has opened an embassy in Ramallah and that all matters can be handled out of Sweden’s consulate in Jerusalem. “We are satisfied with this arrangement,” Wallström said.
The announcement was made during this week’s summit of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, Belgium, the home of the European Parliament. The Middle East peace process is a major focal point of the EU conference amid growing sentiment among the member states to follow Sweden’s lead in recognizing a Palestinian state.
Last month, the British and Irish parliaments passed non-binding resolutions supporting recognition while Spain did so this week and France has announced its intention to do the same. New EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini of Italy stated that the summit would focus not only on recognition but also on how to aid “the building of a Palestinian state.” Mogherini released a statement condemning Tuesday’s massacre in a Jerusalem synagogue in which two Palestinian terrorists murdered five people, including a police officer, and injured another eight, but urged both sides to “calm down the situation and prevent further escalation.”
The European Union cannot officially recognize a country without unanimous consensus among its 28 member states. Although Sweden, Poland and Hungary (the latter two prior to becoming EU members) have made their recognitions of Palestine official, there are a number of holdouts among the members that will not do so until a two-state solution is achieved as a product of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This is the current position of Germany, Lithuania, Denmark and Norway.
Israel vehemently opposes any unilateral resolutions, binding or non-binding. PM Benjamin Netanyahu said that “calls from European countries… to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state pushed peace backwards” and that “such moves give Palestinians the message that they do not need to make the concessions necessary for peace.” Israeli website, Hakol HaYehudi enumerated 240 terrorist attacks carried out between November 7th and 14th. Tuesday’s terrorist attack did not deter the Spanish parliament from proceeding with its scheduled vote on the non-binding resolution of recognition of Palestine.
On the heels of the synagogue murders, the speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, proclaimed that Israel cannot “be in any kind of talks with those who slaughter innocents in their holy places.” Netanyahu has laid the responsibility of the recent Palestinian terror escalations, including yesterday’s attack, squarely at the feet of “Hamas and Abbas (whose) incitement the international community irresponsibly ignores.” Statements by PA President Mahmoud Abbas within the last month have been circumstantially linked to terrorist attacks within the same period. While Abbas issued a qualified condemnation in the aftermath of the synagogue attack, his Fatah party outwardly praised the perpetrators. Palestinians in Gaza celebrated the terrorist attack.
While condemning the Har Nof attack, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström seemingly blamed both sides for escalating the “spiral of violence.” “A series of violent acts have followed one another,” she said, urging restraint. Over the weekend, criticisms of Sweden’s recognition were renewed when Sweden’s monarch, King Carl Gustav, congratulated Mahmoud Abbas on Palestine’s national day. (November 15 is the anniversary of the Palestinians’ unilateral declaration of independence proclaimed by the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat in 1988.) “When you recognize a state, it’s common that the king does so as well,” Wallström said with a “broad smile.”
Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Isaac Bachman – who is yet to return to Sweden following his recall – took exception to the King’s greetings. On his Facebook page, Bachman noted that Sweden is dealing with “the most violent ‘state’ on earth, the most split one…a ‘state’ that its President cannot visit and does not control half of his people, who are oppressed by his practical companions (Hamas) to the same ‘government’, a government that is 4 years overdue with democratic elections.”
Addressing the Jerusalem synagogue atrocity, Bachman observed that “most members of the international community have turned a blind eye to Palestinian incitement to violence. This permits Abbas and other Palestinian leaders to allow the publication of the hate speech and blood libels that directly inspire terrorist attacks.”