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Published on Nov 29, 2014
We all dream of the day when we may welcome the end of the hostilities and when peace between Israel and the Palestinians will finally be achieved in the Middle East. For as long as I have been an MEP, the debate as to how we can in fact realise this objective has been a matter of fierce exchange in this House and elsewhere. My group, the ECR, accepts that lasting peace can only be achieved when all sides return to the negotiating table in order to bring about a two-state solution. We support this two-state solution as being the only feasible outcome for long-term peace and stability, and we are fully committed to working towards the eventual recognition of a sovereign, independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state, which may peacefully co-exist alongside Israel, based on the 1967 borders with land for peace swaps. However, I personally have deep concerns regarding whether this particular motion today, for unilateral recognition of Palestine, is premature. The dual needs of mutual recognition and concrete security arrangements on the ground, which are of paramount importance in achieving peace, would not be addressed by EU Member States granting immediate symbolic recognition to a fledgling Palestinian state. Furthermore, there are fears that this resolution might endanger peace by facilitating a hardening of the Palestinian position towards more intransigence and preventing lasting mutual recognition. This will all require much compromise in order to achieve the final agreement. As such, unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at this stage would, in my view, arguably not assist in bringing Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to the negotiating table, but might actually result in pushing the two sides further apart. We must recognise the Palestinian state at a time most helpful to the peace process. But firstly we must resolve the question of Gaza under Hamas, which is an EU-designated terrorist organisation. Whilst I have serious reservations as to whether this resolution is a good idea at this time, solving this issue will nevertheless remain a foreign policy priority for the ECR, and I agree the 2002 Arab peace initiative is a very good place to start the negotiations, even today, a decade later.