After France, Spain backs enhanced UN status for Palestinians

'It's the best way to move towards peace'

MADRID - Spain said Wednesday it will back a Palestinian bid for enhanced UN status and new global recognition at a General Assembly vote this week.
"Spain will vote 'yes' tomorrow to the Palestinian request in line with our history," Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told parliament, adding Madrid's support to that of France and several other European countries.
Spain believed the Palestinian bid to upgrade its rank from a UN General Assembly observer entity to that of a non-member observer state was the best way to move towards peace, he said.
"We would have preferred as a government if we had not been obliged to arrive at a vote because that would have meant that peace negotiations had advanced," he said.
President Mahmud Abbas will submit the request seeking to upgrade their rank from an observer entity to that of a non-member observer state before the UN General Assembly.
If approved by the 193 member states, it will give the Palestinians access to a range of UN agencies and also potentially to the International Criminal Court.
The United States and Israel have opposed the UN application, insisting that only direct talks on a peace accord can produce an agreement that will create a Palestinian state.
"We believe joining this petition will strengthen the position of Abbas who is the one both inside and outside of Palestine who has made a strong bid for dialogue and negotiation," Spain's foreign minister said.
The United States and Israel have opposed the UN application, insisting that only direct talks on a peace accord can produce an agreement that will create a Palestinian state.
France on Tuesday said it would support the Palestinian bid, the first major European power to voice its support.
European Union powers failed to come to a united position on the Palestinian bid.
The Austrian foreign ministry said Tuesday it would back the Palestinian bid, too, and claimed that more than half the European Union's 27 member states would vote for it.
Spain's foreign minister said Madrid would have prefered that the European Union vote together.
"Up to the last second we have been working to achieve consensus among the 27 member states," Garcia-Margallo said. "It was not possible and we have had to take the unilateral option."
Spain backs a solution to the Middle East conflict that results in separate Israeli and Palestinian states through peace negotiations.