Berlin to Abstain on Vote to Recognize Palestinian State
Ahead of the United Nations vote that is set to recognize a Palestinian state, Germany has announced it will abstain. The move reveals Berlin’s complicated foreign policy loyalties on the issue — and once again reveals Europe’s inability to reach consensus on a key foreign policy issue.
The United Nations General Assembly is widely expected to recognize a Palestinian state on Thursday, but torn between political loyalties, Germany won’t be among the 193 member countries casting their votes on the controversial issue.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle confirmed on Thursday that Germany would abstain on the issue, citing fears that the enhanced status could damage the peace process with Israel.
“In our view, there are doubts about whether the step the Palestinians seek today serves the peace process at this point in time,” Westerwelle said. “We fear that it is more likely to lead to a hardening of the situation.” While Germany supports an independent Palestinian state, this is better achieved through direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, he added.
The Palestinians’ bid is set to enhance their status to “non-member state” — the same position that the Vatican holds — which would grant them recognition as a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, areas taken by Israel in 1967. It would also grant them access to the International Criminal Court, where it is thought they might try to bring war crimes charges against Israel.
Both Israel and the United States are strongly opposed to the bid, preferring bilateral negotiations instead, and both could withhold funding to the Palestinians in response. But the Palestinians are confident that they will easily garner the simple majority necessary to pass the measure, having already been recognized as a state by more than two-thirds of UN member states, with many of their sympathizers in the developing world.