April 30, 2024 | Flash Brief

EU Members Gear Up for Palestinian State Recognition

April 30, 2024 | Flash Brief

EU Members Gear Up for Palestinian State Recognition

Latest Developments

At least five European Union member states are moving to unilaterally recognize Palestinian statehood in the coming months, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on April 29. Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, and Malta will likely recognize a Palestinian state by May, Borrell noted while attending the World Economic Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Four of the five countries — Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, and Belgium — jointly announced their intentions in March. Spain has also been lobbying other European states to follow suit. These countries include non-EU member Norway, which has expressed its intention to recognize a Palestinian state, without specifying a date for doing so. Spain has also lobbied Portugal, whose prime minister cautioned on April 16 that any recognition process “should be built on a multilateral basis within the European Union and the United Nations.”

Israel opposes unilateral Palestinian statehood, a position reinforced by the Israeli Knesset in February. On April 29, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oren Marmorstein stated that “every statement about the possibility that European countries will recognize a Palestinian state is a prize for Hamas terrorists.” He added that “only direct negotiations between the parties will lead to peace” and instead encouraged global leaders to focus on freeing the hostages held in Gaza.

Expert Analysis

“Recognizing Palestinian statehood after the attacks of October 7 and the wide support for genocidal terror regime Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza is a very bad idea. Not only do the vast majority of Palestinians still support violence against Jews and Israelis, but the existing leadership in Ramallah utterly lacks legitimacy amongst Palestinians. There is no credible Palestinian leadership that can rule either the West Bank or Gaza — let alone unite the two territories and manage a viable state.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“The European Union has a long history of talking and little history of doing — conflict mediation is no exception. The EU’s approach to negotiations will not lead to resolution here, because Hamas does not want to negotiate. Unilaterally granting Palestine statehood would be a win for Hamas. Moreover, the EU pushing the United States aside for a leadership role in the Middle East will further disentangle transatlantic ties, which is a dream come true not only for Hamas but also for Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.” — Ivana Stradner, FDD Research Fellow

EU Divided Over Palestinian Statehood

Currently, only eight of the EU’s 27 members recognize a Palestinian state: Bulgaria, Czechia, Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Sweden. Following the Hamas massacre on October 7 in southern Israel and the resulting war in Gaza, EU states are increasingly considering the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Leading members, such as Germany and France, remain opposed to doing so unilaterally. Last February, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that “recognizing a Palestinian state is not a taboo for France,” but did not elaborate on a timeline. On February 26, the foreign affairs spokesperson of Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party addressed the issue in near-identical language to Macron but similarly did not specify a timeline.

EU Rallies Political Support for Palestinian Statehood, Sidesteps American Leadership

On November 27, EU leaders and Arab states agreed that a two-state solution would resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Borrell called on Arab states to make “a political contribution to the construction of a Palestinian state” beyond financing local reconstruction when the war ends. Borrell encouraged Europe to be “more involved” in a solution for Palestine because the “problem” should not be “delegated” to the United States.

U.S. Vetoes Palestinian Statehood at UN,” FDD Flash Brief

Israeli Knesset Agrees: No Unilateral Palestinian Statehood,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel-EU Annual Meeting After Decade Hiatus,” by Shany Mor


International Organizations Israel Israel at War Palestinian Politics