Palestinian Parliament becomes partner of Council of Europe

8 September 2011

Palestinian Parliament becomes partner of Council of Europe

The Council of Europe has responded positively to the request from the Palestinian Parliament for closer cooperation. A proposal to this effect from SP Senator Tiny Kox today received, at its meeting in the Italian town of Caserta, the unanimous support of the Political Committee of the organisation’s Parliamentary Assembly, in which every European country’s parliament participates

During the last nine months Senator Kox has been looking into the Palestinian request to be recognised as a partner institution to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. On a recent visit to Palestine he spoke with President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, and every political group in the Palestinian Parliament, as well as all of the trade unions, representatives of human rights groups, and the Palestinian media. Kox ascertained that there existed a broad basis in Palestinian society for entering into a special relationship with the Council of Europe.

In the proposal approved today, the Palestinian Parliament will be recognised as having a special status in the Council of Europe, comparable to the position which Israel’s Knesset has enjoyed for many years. By concluding an agreement, the Council of Europe has committed itself to supporting the development of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Palestine. For their part the agreement commits the Palestinians equally to the forceful furtherance of the democratic character of their institutions. In concrete terms the Palestinians have undertaken to work towards national reconciliation and the formation, in the short term, of a new government which will make the preparations for local and national elections to be held by June, 2012. The Palestinians also gave guarantees that they would abolish the death penalty and uphold the freedom of organisation, media and religion. In the year to come both partners must demonstrate that they have taken their undertakings seriously and have put them into practice. As Rapporteur responsible for the issue, Senator Kox will have the task of monitoring these promises.

Expectations are that the cooperation agreement will be signed in Strasbourg on 4th October. Two days later President Abbas will address the Parliamentary Assembly, and a fortnight before that he will be in New York to submit a request for Palestine’s accession to the United Nations. “The partnership with the Council of Europe is a separate matter to the request for UN membership,” says Kox. They are separate processes. But both are of enormous importance for the strengthening of Palestine’s position and thus for the achievement of improved conditions for the resumption of negotiations with Israel. A positive reaction in Europe and in the UN will increase the chances of a just solution to the longstanding conflict in the Middle East.”

Kox describes himself as extremely pleased also that the delegation from the Knesset let it be known that they were in favour of the acceptance of the Palestinian request for partnership. “This year I’ve invested a great deal in my contacts with the Palestinians, the Israelis, and the various political groups and national delegations in the Council of Europe. This has contributed to the fact that my eventual proposal was supported right across the board.”

You are here