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In Historic Move, Iceland Becomes the First Western European Nation to Recognize Palestinian Statehood

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Cross-posted from Tikkun Daily.

by David Harris-Gershon

A rally for Palestine in Iceland. Photo by Karl Gunnarsson.

A rally for Palestine in Iceland. Photo by Karl Gunnarsson.

On Tuesday, Iceland became the first Western European nation to pass a parliamentary motion recognizing Palestine as an independent state. The motion - symbolically passed on the United Nation's annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people - backs a Palestinian state on 1967 borders, calls on both Israel and Palestine to reject violence and notes the question of Palestinian refugees.

Calling the vote historic, Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson indicated that Iceland's move was precipitated by the Palestinians' application for full U.N. membership - an application which has not been accepted by the U.N. Security Council.

Icelandic lawmaker Amal Tamimi, who was born in Palestine, applauded the move as a necessary step, stating, " I hope that more countries will follow suit."

As the Icelandic parliament moved to recognize Palestine, the Palestinian Authority made clear it intends to push forward with its U.N. membership bid:

Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour read a message from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at UN headquarters on the occasion of the day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. He reaffirmed the Palestinian's bid for UN membership, saying it should complement peace negotiations, provided that Israel is prepared to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders.

Abbas said the Palestinians are not seeking "to delegitimize Israel" by applying to join the UN "but to delegitimize its settlement activities and the seizure of our occupied lands."

With its U.N. bid stalled in the Security Council, it remains unclear whether or not Abbas will push forward with an attempt to secure a non-binding resolution in the General Assembly affirming Palestinian statehood. Such a resolution, if moved upon, would be almost guaranteed to pass despite opposition from the United States.

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