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EU ministers mull Palestine's U.N. status

Nov. 12, 2012 at 11:53 AM

BRUSSELS, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Palestine likely can count on 11 EU foreign ministers to vote favorably when it tries to enhance its status at the United Nations, an EU official said.

Maja Kocijancic, the European Union's foreign affairs spokeswoman, said foreign ministers will discuss the Palestine's effort to upgrade its U.N. status when the ministers meet in Brussels Nov. 19, the EUobserver reported.

"The EU maintains that negotiations remain the best way forward to resolve the Middle East peace process," Kocijancic said last week.

However, a senior EU diplomat told EUobserver the European Union is divided on the question, however, noting the votes likely will follow "the same pattern as with UNESCO," referring to a 2011 decision by the United Nations' cultural agency to admit Palestine as a member.

Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia and Spain backed Palestine's admission to UNESCO while the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden voted no. Britain, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia abstained.

Palestinian officials last week circulated a draft U.N. resolution seeking observer status, based on the pre-1967 borders.

The document mirrors the European Union's position on the conflict by also calling for "the resumption and acceleration of negotiations" and for "two states, an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Israel," the EUobserver said late last week.

Palestine needs a simple majority in the United Nations to pass. The vote is expected either Thursday or Nov. 29.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said Israel's ambassadors to European countries will work to block the effort.

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