Following France’s lead, one EU country after another changed their votes in favor of the Palestinians.
By Barak Ravid, HAARETZ, Israel
As the hours wore on Thursday, the magnitude of the Israeli defeat in the United Nations General Assembly became continually clearer. One after another, the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office received reports from Israeli embassies in Europe that countries were changing their votes at the last minute and leaning toward the Palestinians. A few hours before the vote, officials in Jerusalem understood that Israel was left without any Western support except for the United States, Canada and the Czech Republic.
“We lost Europe,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official. The erosion of Israeli support and shift to the Palestinians started a few days ago in France. President Francois Hollande’s words at a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris a month ago, in which he expressed doubts about the Palestinian move in the UN, disappeared as if he never spoke them.
Despite previous declarations, France announced that instead of abstaining, it would vote in favor of recognizing Palestine as a non-member state – an observer state without full membership in the United Nations.
Sixteen members of the European Union have announced their support for the Palestinian move: Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, Luxembourg, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Malta, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and Greece all joined France in the past few days. Norway and Switzerland, which are not members of the European Union, also announced their support for the Palestinian request.