French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos have launched an initiative to officially recognize a sovereign Palestinian state in 18 months, even if negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have not concluded.
Senior European diplomats cited by Ha'aretz said Israel was informed of the initiative several weeks ago. Israeli officials confirmed that, and noted that Jerusalem has been lobbying hard against the initiative.
Israel argues that handing the Palestinians their final prize before they have fulfilled their peace obligations will nullify the peace process and lead to increased violence. It will also be seen across the region as a victory for terrorism and violent behavior, bolstering groups like Hamas and Hizballah and further destabilizing the Middle East.
Kouchner and Moratinos are said to be preparing a joint article encouraging immediate recognition of a Palestinian state. The article will be published in all major European newspapers.