Spain and Ireland expected to recognise state of Palestine on May 21

EU's top diplomat says other member states such as Slovenia and Belgium could follow suit

The leaders of Ireland and Spain, Simon Harris, left, and Pedro Sanchez have both publicly backed Palestinian statehood. AFP
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Spain and Ireland are planning to formally recognise the state of Palestine on May 21, the EU's top diplomat revealed on Friday.

Josep Borrell said other EU countries such as Slovenia and Belgium could join what would be seen as a symbolic step towards a Middle East peace settlement.

"More than a state, it recognises the will for that state to exist," he told Spanish radio.

The revelation comes as UN member states prepare to vote on Friday on a UAE-sponsored resolution on Palestinian statehood.

The US last month vetoed a Security Council motion on fully fledged Palestinian membership of the UN.

However, Friday's motion would grant Palestine additional rights in the general assembly and urge the Security Council to reconsider the matter.

Nine of the EU's 27 states formally recognise Palestine, although only one, Sweden, has done so while a member of the bloc.

However, the brutal Israel-Gaza war has prompted calls to revitalise the Middle East peace process by bringing Palestinian statehood closer.

The leaders of Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and Malta agreed in March they would recognise Palestine as soon as "the circumstances are right".

Spain has said it will do so because "Palestinians have the right to a future with hope just as the Israeli people have the right to a future with peace and security".

Ireland's new Taoiseach Simon Harris this week signalled recognition was coming as he said there was "never a wrong time to do the right thing".

"Ireland wishes to recognise the state of Palestine and wishes to see those two states live side by side," he said.

Spain and Ireland have both sharply criticised Israel's conduct during the war and asked the EU to consider scaling back bilateral relations.

They had held back from revealing a date they would recognise Palestinian statehood but Mr Borrell appeared to give the game away on Friday.

"This is a symbolic act of a political nature," he said of the expected May 21 announcements. There was no immediate comment from Madrid or Dublin.

For his own part, Mr Borrell has said a fully fledged state that brings order to Palestine is "the best guarantee for Israel's security".

Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said this week his country would recognise Palestine's statehood by mid-June.

Israel opposes the recognition of a Palestinian state, saying it would reward the militants who attacked it on October 7 last year.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel must retain "security control" of all territory west of the River Jordan, including Gaza.

The US says it supports a two-state solution in principle but that the time is not right and there are "unresolved questions" over whether Palestine qualifies.

Fellow Security Council member Britain says recognition "should not come at the start of a new process, but it doesn’t have to come at the very end".

France meanwhile voted in favour of a recent UN motion on admitting Palestine as a member, although it has not recognised a state itself.

Updated: May 10, 2024, 12:01 PM