EU votes for Palestinian state in principle

The vote comes ahead of a scheduled UN Security Council vote on Palestinian statehood

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The European parliament settled on a compromise resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution in principle, so long peace talks progress, on Wednesday.

Following a deal among the main parties, the motion carried by 498 votes to 88 stated: "(The European parliament) supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced."

Lawmakers on the left had originally wanted to urge the EU's 28 member states to recognize Palestine now without conditions.

This follows Sweden's decision in October to do so and non-binding votes since then by parliaments in Britain, France and Ireland in favor of recognition that demonstrated growing European impatience with Israel and the stalled peace process.

Since the collapse of the latest U.S.-sponsored peace talks in April, Israel has pressed on with building settlements in territory the Palestinians want for their future state.

However, conservatives and centrists said recognition should only form part of a negotiated agreement with Israel.
"With this vote, the European Parliament has clearly rejected an unconditional recognition separate from the peace negotiations," said Elmar Brok, a German conservative who chairs the parliament's foreign affairs committee.

The left emphasized there was broad support for statehood, as seen in national legislatures.

"European recognition of Palestinian statehood is not an alternative to either a two-state solution or to peace talks to achieve it but gives a vital impetus to both," said Richard Howitt, a member of the European Parliament for Britain's opposition Labor Party.

There was no immediate reaction from the Palestinian or Israeli governments to the vote. Israel earlier expressed dismay over the decision of an EU court, based on a procedural complaint, to remove the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from the bloc's list of terrorist organizations.

The EU vote comes ahead of a planned U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood.

The Palestinian foreign minister said an Arab-backed draft on ending Israel's occupation of lands captured in 1967 will be submitted later in the day to the U.N. Security Council.

However, Riad Malki said Wednesday the actual vote on the resolution might be put off - suggesting a compromise is in the works to avoid a clash in the council.

The Jordanian-backed draft - which the U.S. is almost certain to veto - sets November 2016 as a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal.

Malki told the Voice of Palestine radio that there will be more negotiations on the wording.

He says that “we were informed that France has agreed with the United States, the United Kingdom and Jordan to continue talks” about the resolution to avoid a (U.S.) veto.

[With AP and Reuters]

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