MIDDLE EAST DIPLOMACY

Spain to vote in favor of UN observer status for Palestine

Rajoy backs two-state solution as Israel warns Madrid it could become sidelined in future peace negotiations

The Spanish government is expected to vote Thursday in favor of granting Palestine observer status at the United Nations despite a warning from Israel that such a move could limit Spain’s influence in any future peace negotiations.

Foreign Minister José María García-Margallo has already said that he favors allowing the Palestinians to become UN observers. But EL PAÍS learned on Tuesday afternoon that Spain will give Palestine an affirmative vote.

France and Austria both announced on Tuesday that they will also be voting in favor of the initiative. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that his country has always supported an independent Palestinian state. Michael Spindelegger, the Austrian foreign minister, said Vienna has decided to vote in favor after changes were made to the text of the Palestinians’ petition, meaning they would not gather the right to hold seats on any UN agencies.

Spain has always been a pro-Palestinian country and this position has never change"

During a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in Madrid for an official visit on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that Spain would make its final decision after reviewing a copy of the final petition, which the government is expected to receive at 9pm. Rajoy, who spoke to Erdogan about the situation, said that Spain favors two independent Palestinian and Israeli states.

“We have always maintained our position in favor of a two-state solution and we will continue to do all we can on our part to ensure this comes about,” Rajoy said.

The Palestinian Embassy in Madrid said that it expected “nothing less than clear support” from Spain during Thursday’s vote. “Spain has always been a pro-Palestinian country and this position has never changed throughout the years of democratic governments,” embassy sources told Servimedia.

Yet sources at the Israeli Embassy in Madrid say that Spain could find itself on the sidelines in any future peace negotiations. “If Spain and the European Union want to be part of the solution, their margin of influence in any future negotiations will be much more limited by voting in favor of this initiative,” diplomats told Servimedia.

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