Foreign minister offers full diplomatic status to Palestinian Mission

Palestinian diplomats will be able to claim immunity and expect invitations to diplomatic events after the foreign minister agreed to follow Norway and Sweden’s lead

The Palestinian Mission will be offered the same diplomatic rights in Denmark as recognised states, the foreign minister, Villy Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), announced at a meeting of Nordic foreign ministers in Sweden on Saturday.

Finland also announced that it would upgrade the privileges of Palestinian diplomats, bringing the two countries into line with Sweden and Norway, both of which have already extended to Palestine the diplomatic rights normally reserved for recognised states.

According to Søvndal, the move will mean that Palestinian diplomats can now claim diplomatic immunity and expect invitations to diplomatic events along with other ambassadors.

“We hope that the intention to give, for all practical purposes, the Palestinian Mission working conditions identical to those of an embassy will encourage President Abbas to engage with determination in the necessary negotiations with the Israeli government on a two-state solution,” Søvndal stated in a press release. “The present efforts undertaken from the US and strongly supported by the EU deserve the support of the Palestinian and Israeli governments.”

The Foreign Ministry added that upgrading the status of the Palestinian Missions in Denmark and Finland does not mean the two countries are recognising the sovereignty of a Palestinian state. Denmark’s current administration is a supporter of the Palestinian cause and in November voted in favour of Palestine’s successful bid to upgrade its status at the UN. The Danish government has also actively criticised Israel’s construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move which has been condemned as illegal under international law.

Last year, Denmark chose to implement a voluntary scheme which allowed supermarkets to label Israeli products produced by illegal settlers in the West Bank.

Denmark’s latest show of support was welcomed by Fathi el Abed, the chairman of the Danish-Palestinian Friendship Society.

“The US is attempting to start the peace process again and it’s an important signal to both the US and Israel that Palestine is granted diplomat status,” Abed told Ritzau. “With Europe now onboard, now is the time to try and achieve a peace solution using diplomatic, economic and political means.”

Opposition party Dansk Folkeparti opposed the government’s move, however. MP Søren Espersen argued that Palestine should not have been offered diplomatic status before it was officially recognised as a state.

“Never before in our entire diplomatic history, going back to the Middle Ages, have we established diplomatic ties on an ambassadorial level with a state that is as yet unrecognised." Espersen told Politiken.

Palestine's diplomatic status should be upgraded over the course of 2013.

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