Council of Europe will now refer to ‘Palestine’

22 January 2013

Council of Europe will now refer to ‘Palestine’

From this week onwards the name Palestine will adorn the office of the Palestinian delegation at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Following Palestine’s recognition as a ‘non-member state’ by the United Nations, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will also henceforth refer to ‘Palestine’. A request for this change from the Palestinian Parliament has been answered positively by the Assembly, a fact which SP Senator Tiny Kox, Chair of the United Left Group in PACE, announced on the first day of its initial meeting of 2013.

Tiny KoxSince 2011 the Palestinian Parliament, in common with the Parliament of Morocco, has been recognised as a ‘Partner for Democracy’ of the Council of Europe, a body in which all European countries participate. The designation ‘Palestine’ was until now, however, seen as a bridge too far, but following the United Nations’ decision there is no remaining reason to withhold it, Senator Kox pointed out. Kox also drew attention to important steps forward which must be taken by Palestine this year if she is to make her status within the Council of Europe permanent, noting that ‘cooperation isn’t a free gift’. At the end of 2013 Kox will, as special rapporteur for Palestine, draw up a balance sheet for the partnership. One of the most important obligations on the agenda is the organisation of parliamentary and presidential elections in the country.

The positive decision in Strasbourg was received with enthusiasm in Ramallah, at a time when Israel is holding parliamentary elections in which the occupation of Palestine appears to be playing no role. ‘Israel is in a complete state of denial,’ says Kox. ‘But for Palestine and Israel both it is the case that without an end to the occupation and without peaceful coexistence, no lasting security and wellbeing can be established. I hope that after today’s elections a greater sense of reality will arrive in the region.’

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