Israel blasts Spanish vote on Palestine independence

JERUSALEM: Israel has censured the Spanish parliament over a symbolic vote, which calls on the Madrid government to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.

"The declaration of the Spanish parliament only distances the chance of reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, because it encourages the Palestinians to become more extreme in their positions," Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Spanish lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a non-binding resolution, which Socialist opposition party had submitted for recognizing a Palestinian state.

The motion gleaned 319 votes in its favor, two against, and one abstention. It urged Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy "to promote in coordination with the European Union the recognition of the Palestinian state as sovereign, contiguous, democratic and independent…."

The French National Assembly is also expected to vote on November 28 on a proposal to urge the government to recognize Palestine as a state.

Britain and Ireland have already passed similar non-binding motions. On October 30, Sweden went a step further and officially recognized the state of Palestine, drawing stringent criticism from Israel and the United States.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom dismissed the criticism leveled at the Scandinavian country by the US, saying, “It’s not the US that decides our politics.”

On November 29, 2012, the 193-member United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-member observer state.

The observer state status grants Palestinians access to UN agencies and the International Criminal Court (ICC), where they can file formal complaints against the Israeli regime.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.

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