Denmark to vote in favour of upgrading Palestine at UN

Broad political majorty supports move, though Dansk Folkeparti argues it will undermine the peace process

Denmark will vote in favour of granting Palestine permanent observer status at the United Nations tomorrow, the foreign minister, Villy Søvndal, has confirmed.

Pressure has been mounting on Søvndal as the UN debated a resolution submitted by Palestinian leaders to upgrade their status from a ‘permanent observer’ to a ‘non-member observer state’.

If the vote passes, which reports suggest is likely, Palestine will join the Vatican as the only other national entity granted the status, which allow them join a range of UN organisations and participate in General Assembly debates, but not vote.

“I think we should congratulate the Palestinians for a good and balanced text that does not succumb to the temptation to seek confrontation,” Søvndal stated in a press release, referring to the resolution. “It is a moderate text that clearly underlines the need for peace negotiations and a two-state solution that will ensure the security of the Palestinians a secure and viable state side-by-side with Israel.”

Søvndal added that he hoped that the vote at the UN would create momentum in the peace process and he encouraged the two sides to return to the negotiating table.

“The two-state solution is the only way to ensure lasting security and welfare for both the Palestinian and Israeli people,” he wrote. “Ensuring Israel’s security is paramount for the government.”

Fathi El-Abed, chairman of Dansk-Palestinesisk Venskabsforening, a Danish-Palestinian group, told Berlingske newspaper that he was overjoyed by the news he considered ”historic”.

“As a Dane with a Palestinian background, I am proud of our government that has made the decision after seeking a broad political consensus and mandate,” El-Abed said, after opposition parties Venstre and Konservative stated they supported the government’s decision.

According to Berlingske, Dansk Folkeparti is opposed to upgrading Palestine’s status, as the far-right party fears doing so would slow the peace process, especially given American opposition to the move.

“We’re challenging Obama and I don’t think it’s a good idea to make it more difficult for him to do his job to create something positive,” MP Søren Espersen (Dansk Folkeparti) told Politiken newspaper. “After this Israel will no longer listen to Europe.”

France, Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden have also announced their plans to vote in favour of upgrading Palestine’s status.

The US and Israel are opposed to granting Palestine permanent observer status, while the UK has said it will vote in favour so long as Palestine promises not to join the International Criminal Court to pursue legal action against Israel.




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