Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has expressed concern following a vote in the European Parliament which brought unilateral recognition of the statehood of the Palestinian Territories a step closer.
Mr Nicholson said:
“I have long been of the view that the way forward in this seemingly intractable conflict is a two state solution - with a peaceful and secure Israel neighbouring a peaceful and independent Palestine. I therefore am happy to support anything which would further that end. Unfortunately, I fear that the passing of this motion does not bring a lasting solution any closer.
“A two state solution is in the interests of all parties involved. But it can only come about after direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians whereby, at the very least, Israel’s right to exist and live in peace is explicitly recognised.
“To put things into context, the current Palestinian ‘Unity’ government includes Hamas. This summer alone, Hamas launched 4,000 missiles into Israel. Every single one of these rockets were aimed at civilian targets.
“That is why this motion was flawed. Hamas are a terrorist organisation. If the European Parliament wishes to recognise Palestinian statehood unilaterally, it gives a veneer of legitimacy to a terrorist group who say they will never recognise Israel, all the while terror attacks upon Israelis continue to take place daily.
“Real progress will be made by getting the relevant parties back to the table. If we are actually serious about a two state solution and a viable Palestinian state, we need direct negotiation, not unilateral recognition.
“In any case, the truth is that the European Parliament has no mandate to take such an emotive decision. This is and must always be the responsibility of the Member States.”