(JTA) — Spain said it will make Palestinian statehood a priority during its presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2010.
"Of course I cannot guarantee that at the end of the year we will have a Palestinian state," Miguel Moratinos, the Spanish foreign minister who will assume the EU presidency on Jan. 1, said last Friday at a Brussels news conference. "But we are going to fight for this final aspiration to become a reality."
Moratinos was formerly a chief Middle East negotiator for the European Union.
The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, plans a visit to the region in February to press the Israelis and Palestinians to resume talks.
Moratinos’ announcement came the same day that the Swedish-run EU presidency criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for including settlements in a priority spending budget despite the current settlement freeze.
Israeli officials were quoted by Israel Radio as saying that they regretted the EU statement and that Europe would do better to promote agreement rather than division between the parties.