on the recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Palestine.
Althingi resolves to entrust the government to recognize Palestine as an
independent and sovereign state within the pre-1967 Six Day War borders. Also,
Althingi urges Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile through the means of peace
agreements on the basis of international law and resolutions of the United
Nations, including the mutual recognition of the State of Israel and the State of
Althingi reaffirms that the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, is the
legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and also recalls the rights of
Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes in accordance with
resolutions reaffirmed by the United Nations.
Althingi demands that the conflicting parties in the Arab-Israeli Conflict cease
warfare and acts of violence forthwith and respect human rights and
Adopted by Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament, 29 November 2011.
140th Legislative session, 2011−2012. Unofficial translation
Parliamentary document No 358 — Parliamentary item No 31.
on a Proposal for a Parliamentary Resolution on the recognition of the independence and
sovereignty of Palestine.
Delivered by the majority of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Committee has addressed the matter [parliamentary item 31] and summoned to its
meetings Mr. Hermann Örn Ingólfsson and Mr. Haukur Ólafsson of the Ministry for Foreign
Affairs, Mr. Sveinn Rúnar Hauksson, Mr. Yousef Tamimi and Ms. Linda Ósk Árnadóttir of
the Association Iceland – Palestine, Mr. Ólafur Jóhannsson and Mr. Hreiðar Þór Sæmundsson
of ZION – friends of Israel, and Ms. Elva Björk Barkardóttir. Furthermore, the Committee
received the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Committee received statements from the
Association Iceland – Palestine and Ms. Elva Björk Barkardóttir, in addition to received
memoranda from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The Proposal for a Parliamentary Resolution constitutes that Althingi (the Icelandic
parliament) shall recognise Palestine as an independent and sovereign state within the pre-
1967 Six Day War borders.
Althingi has for many years supported the rights of self-determination and an independent
state of the Palestinians, emphasised a peaceful settlement of the disputes between
Palestinians and Israelis and considered it important for the international community to
enforce an agreement between the conflicting parties. Althingi adopted Resolution No 19/111
on the Arab-Israeli dispute on 18 May 1989, submitted by the Foreign Affairs Committee,
where the emphasis was that both the self-determination of the Palestinian people and Israel's
right to exist should be recognised, as well as the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to
their former homes in accordance with reiterated resolutions by the United Nations (see 111th
Legislative session, Parliamentary item No 102). Althingi adopted Resolution No 25/127 of
30 April 2002, which also was submitted by the Foreign Affairs Committee, where it was
demanded that peace negotiations should commence on the issues of an independent
Palestinian state and the security of the State of Israel within internationally recognised
borders (see 127th Legislative session, Parliamentary item No 734). Furthermore, the
Majority of the Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a protocol on its meeting on 1 June 2010
where Israel's attack, in international waters, on a flotilla bringing aid to the needy in Gaza in
Palestine was harshly condemned. In previous months issues relating to Palestine have
repeatedly been on the Committee's agenda, including during five meetings with the Minister
for Foreign Affairs. The Committee urged the Minister for Foreign Affairs to visit Gaza, the
West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to get acquainted with the situation in the Palestinian
territories and the standing of the dispute. The Minister gave an oral report to the Committee
in August 2011 in the wake of his journey. The Majority emphasises the historical context of
Althingi's deliberations on the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the rights of Palestinians to their own
state. The Majority is of the opinion that the proposal, which the Committee has deliberated
on, is a logical continuation of Althingi's previous resolutions and in fact a normal phase in
the political development of the issue in question.
The so-called Arab Spring, which started by civil protests in Tunisia, has led to the
emergence of rightful demands that democracy, human rights and equality shall be respected.
There has in fact been a revolutionary change in the development of democracy in the Middle
East and North Africa, even if the future status of human rights in individual countries is
rather unclear. Iceland has supported this development. The Majority is of the opinion that
Palestinian demands of self-determination in their own state cannot be separated from the
development of democracy in the region.
The illegal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem has lasted from 1967, or
for 44 years. Fairly recently great walls have been erected that divide the Palestinian
territories into many fractions. Israel continues her illegal land acquisitions, with ever
growing settlements, such as in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These illegal land
acquisitions by Israelis are among the issues that have hindered the peace negotiations.
Palestinians have for years suffered human rights violations that are infringements of public
international law, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the fourth Geneva
Convention on the protection of civilian populations in time of war and UN resolutions.
Following the recent admission of Palestine to UNESCO, the Israeli authorities responded by
deciding to withhold tax revenues to the Palestinian National Authority on the one hand and
on the other hand by announcing that it would accelerate the construction of 2,000 settlement
housing units in the illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Human rights
violations in the Occupied Territories are of special concern and it is important to continue to
utilise every opportunity to urge all parties to this dispute to cease all acts of violence and to
honour human rights and humanitarian law.
Attacks by Hamas in the Gaza Strip on areas inhabited by Israelis must cease. Furthermore,
internal disputes must be concluded. Reconciliation by Hamas and Fatah are the precondition
to a political consensus among the Palestinians and in fact a priority objective for the
cooperation of the two factions. The Majority demands that the Hamas organisation shall
respect the agreements made by the PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, on behalf
of the Palestinians. A unity government of Hamas and Fatah must declare decisively that the
Hamas organisation cease all acts of violence towards Israel and acknowledge Israel's rights
to peace and security among the states in the region. Palestinian leaders must declare their
intentions to honour and guard the basic values of democracy and human rights in the same
way as the leaders of Israel did at the establishment of the State of Israel.
The Majority reaffirms that the PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, is the
legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in accordance with the relevant General
Assembly resolution of 1974. The Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian
National Authority (PNA) have ceased armed struggle, recognised the State of Israel and
acknowledged the pre-1967 Six-Day War borders as being the future border. Since 1988,
when the PLO declared the independence of the State of Palestine and its wishes for peace
negotiations that would be founded on a two-state solution, some 132 countries have
recognised the independence and sovereignty of the State of Palestine. Included therein are
eight European Union Member States and seven NATO Member States.
The Majority notes that in 1947 the General Assembly adopted a historical resolution
A/RES/181(II) of the Partition of Palestine into two separate and independent states, a Jewish
state and an Arab state. That resolution was founded on the views and results of the Majority
of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, presented by its
Rapporteur, Ambassador Thor Thors, Iceland's first permanent representative to the United
Nations. Even though nearly 64 years have passed since the adoption of the resolution, it has
not been fully implemented.
The Majority clearly finds that Palestine fulfills the stipulation for being considered a
ratified party to international law. It is generally considered that a state needs territory,
inhabitants, a central government that actually controls the territorial area in question and
independence to maintain external relations.
a. Palestine has a distinctive geographic area, even if the PNA lacks total control over its
territory due to Israel's illegal occupation. The Majority agrees with wording in the statements
presented to this proposal that one of the basic principles in international law is that rights of
individual countries cannot be established by unlawful acts on their behalf. In international
law, control over a territory by the use of force is not considered a legitimate means of a state
control. On this basis, the United Nations have adopted resolutions on Israel's illegal
occupation of Palestinian territories and it is thus clear that Israel will not assume legitimate
control over these territories regardless of the extended period of time the occupation might
endure. Accordingly it must be assumed that the recognition of Palestine as an independent
state is perfectly valid by virtue of the legitimacy of rule in international law.
b. The population of Palestine amounts to about four million in addition to about 4.7
million Palestinian refugees in the neighbouring countries.
c. As stated previously in this report, as delivered by the Majority, a reference to the PLO
was made as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in accordance with the
relevant General Assembly resolution of 1974.
d. The Majority has no doubt that Palestine enjoys sufficient independence and
capabilities to maintain external relations. The Palestinian National Authority already has
formal relations with numerous states. Furthermore, Palestine is a ratified member of various
international organisations, and most recently joined UNESCO, as previously mentioned.
About two-thirds of UN Member States have recognised Palestine as an independent and
The Committee has discussed various precedents, such as Kosovo, where the government
in question does not fully control its territory. Various states, including Iceland, did however
recognise the sovereignty of Kosovo in 2008. Iceland did also recognise the independence of
the Baltic states in 1991, without their respective governments having fully obtained control
over their territories. The Majority notes in this context that Althingi's resolutions in
Parliamentary item No 404 of the 140th Legislative session, Parliamentary item No 350 of the
113th Legislative session and Parliamentary item No 350 of the 113th Legislative session
where a multi-party consensus was reached and the proposals were submitted by the Foreign
The Majority emphasises the extraordinary progress the Palestinian Authority has made in
building the institutions of statehood. Recent audits by the United Nations, the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank have resulted in declarations by these institutions that the
Palestinian National Authority is fully capable of running state affairs. Furthermore, an
international consultative committee on the development of Palestine, presided by Norway,
concluded that the Palestinians have, in recent years, achieved unequivocal success in
economic development. Israel has recently by her actions tried to interfere with the activities
of public institutions in Palestine with the suspension of transferring taxes that have been
collected for the Palestinian National Authority. The Majority harshly criticises this conduct.
The Majority suggests that Althingi should urge both Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile
through means of peace agreements on the basis of international law and UN resolutions,
which should inter alia include mutual recognition of the State of Israel and the State of
Palestine, and suggests amendments to that effect. Furthermore, both parties should be urged
to respect provisions of The United Nations Charter, declarations of human rights, resolutions
of the United Nations and international law in all respects in occupied Palestine, on Gaza and
the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The Majority notes that according to Security Council Resolution No 242 (1967) Israel is
obliged to withdraw her armed forces from the territories occupied in the Six Days War of
1967. The Resolution refers to the so-called Green Line, which represents the 1949 Armistice
In this context, the Majority reiterates the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their
former homes in accordance with resolutions reaffirmed by the United Nations, and suggests
amendment to the proposal of that effect.
The Majority demands that all parties to the Arab-Israeli Conflict cease forthwith all
warfare and acts of violence, respect human rights and humanitarian law and suggests
amendment to that effect to the text of the proposal.
The Majority finds evident that the establishment of a state in Palestine may not be delayed
any further and supports the wishes of Palestine for independence and admission to the United
Nations. Palestinians have the right to independence and thus it is an obligation of Icelanders
and the international community to honour their wishes for admission and also to utilise this
possibility to resume peace negotiations. The Majority demands that international institutions
assume a more definite role in the peace negotiations. The United Nations are obliged to
ensure peace and security, as well as respect for international law and human rights. In this
context, the Majority considers appropriate to mention the International Criminal Court,
which is, at international level, one of the major judicial improvements in recent years. The
grounds for the Court to exercise its jurisdiction are inter alia that the state, which controls the
territory where the conduct in question took place, has acknowledged the jurisdiction of the
Court. Palestine could, if she would be acknowledged as a state in accordance with
international law, whether as a Member State or a Permanent Observer to the United Nations,
acknowledge the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court on the basis of a provision of
Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, even while not having
ratified the Statute.
The best prospect for peace is to equalize the status of Israel and Palestine before
international law and by direct negotiations between the two sides to find a solution to their
matters of dispute. This is a more suitable way than the static condition that has prevailed for
decades. The recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Palestine is a step towards
The Majority welcomes the current proposal and the milestone it brings, and suggests its
adoption with the amendments previously discussed and are suggested in a special
Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a participating observer in the Foreign Affairs Committee and has
adopted the views presented in this Committee Report as well.
Althingi, 22 November 2011.
Árni Þór Sigurðsson,
Sigmundur Ernir Rúnarsson.
Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson.
140th Legislative session, 2011−2012. Unofficial translation
Parliamentary document No 381 — Parliamentary item No 31.
on a Proposal for a Parliamentary Resolution on the recognition of the independence and
sovereignty of Palestine.
Delivered by the minority of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
This proposal [parliamentary item 31] proposes that Iceland recognizes Palestine as an
independent and sovereign state within the borders as of before the Six Day War of 1967. The
Minority supports a two-state solution but makes numerous objections on the timing of this
proposal, its grounding, approach and one-sided presentation.
Althingi has in recent years supported the right of self-determination and an independent
state of the Palestinians. Althingi, led by the Independence Party, adopted in 1989 Resolution
No 19/111 (see Parliamentary item No 102, 111th Legislative Session) where Israeli
authorities were urged to prevent the killing of defenceless civilians and urged to observe the
UN Declaration of Human Rights and the 4th Geneva Convention on the protection of civilian
population in time of war. Althingi noted the necessity for both parties to avoid acts of
violence, demonstrate a true willingness to settle disputes and recognize their mutual rights in
accordance with UN resolution No 181 of 29 November 1947 that, together with Security
Council Resolutions No 242 of 1967 and No 338 of 1973, forms the basis for a durable peace
and security in the Middle East. Althingi has for 22 years been of the view that friendly
relations should be maintained with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the PLO.
Althingi, led by the Independence Party, adopted another resolution, No 25/127 of 2002 (see
Parliamentary item No 734, 127th Legislative Session), where it was demanded that all acts of
violence would cease, including suicide attacks and application of military force, that Israel
withdrew her troops from the territories of the Palestinian National Authority, that the
conflicting parties would conclude a cease-fire and commence peace negotiations relating to
an independent state of the Palestinians and Israel's security within her internationally
recognized borders, in conformity with Security Council resolutions. Althingi referred to
former resolutions while declaring that the nations of the world should promote a process
where Israelis and Palestinians would resolve their disputes on the basis of international law
and UN resolutions.
The importance of taking into consideration the perspectives of both conflicting parties has
always been emphasized by Althingi. Althingi has adopted resolutions visioning that two
states might co-exist peacefully side by side in the territory in question. This very vision has
also been promulgated by the Quartet as well as, in fact, all the parties that/who have been
involved with the peace negotiations in the region. The main goal of that approach has been to
take those steps considered most likely to achieve permanent peace in the region. Iceland
previously applied this same approach when the State of Israel was established. Until now,
that is the manner in which Althingi has adopted its resolutions.
In the explanatory memorandum to the proposal, there is a reference to the democratic
developments taking place in this part of the world in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.
The Minority wholeheartedly applauds these important democratic milestones that have been
obtained in recent months, but concludes that it is, at this stage, too early to make general
assertions regarding the overall progress of democracy in the Middle East. Democratic
elections have only taken place in Tunisia and Morocco and the general situation is widely
unstable. The events in Egypt in the last few days may be mentioned in that context, where
civilians now oppose the military junta that assumed power following the events earlier this
year. The implementation of the Egyptian general elections which will take place within the
next few days remains a concern at this point. It is the opinion of the Minority that the general
situation in other countries in the region is different from that of Palestine where a particular
peace process has been negotiated with the aim of accomplishing the so-called two-state
The Minority believes that the supporters of this proposal have not given enough
consideration as to how Icelanders could promote peace in that region. The conviction of the
Majority of the Committee of how the recognition of the independence and sovereignty of the
State of Palestine would bring better prospects for peace into the region has been significantly
lacking. The Minority asks how the ratification of this proposal will adapt to the Oslo
Accords, where it was eminently agreed upon that the disputed borders would not be altered.
The Accords specifically provided for that neither party would take any actions that might put
the negotiations in jeopardy or alter its character. This must be taken into account. For these
reasons the Minority concludes that the proposal in question is premature and submitted in a
unilateral manner where a balance has not been maintained, neither between the disputing
parties nor with regards to history, as well as the continuum, which has characterized the
position of Iceland and her neighbouring countries, has been broken.
The Minority points out that no research has been conducted on what possible effects a
general recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Palestine might have on the actual
peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The intended benefit of the
recognition might turn out to be the opposite. The reason being the dispute between Fatah on
the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, as there is not one, but two governments in Palestine. The
factions do not necessarily have common interests at heart, as they are fundamentally
different in character, one being a recognized terrorist organization that has conducted attacks
and acts of violence against Israel, while the other is favoured by the United Nations, as
confirmed by a UN resolution. The Minister for Foreign Affairs stated, during the proposal’s
debate, that he could not guarantee that the factions would cooperate, but he said that he
hoped that the negotiations between the two would lead to a conclusion that would not cause
any fear in this matter. This assessment by the Minister seems to be the primary argument for
the submission of this case. The Minister's assessment is at the same time in conflict with the
opinion of almost all the countries that have worked hardest to promote peace in the region.
There are strong indications that the conflicts in the Middle East, dating from the historical
UN resolution No 181 of 1947 to the present day, are connected to the mere existence of the
State of Israel. The Arab States in the region have been reluctant to recognize an independent
state of Israel. The leaders of Iran, for example, have gone as far as to declare that Israel
should be annihilated from the face of the earth. The Hamas leadership, the current authorities
in Gaza, have also expressed similar views. Ideologically, the permanent existence of Israel
has been contrary to Hamas' interest, as is thus the prospects of peace. It should be mentioned,
in this context, that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), has not yet been willing to
acknowledge the rights of Jews to their own state. Mahmoud Abbas, the Chairman of the
Palestinian National Authority, recently stated at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe that it was extremely difficult for Palestine to recognize a Jewish state. This is of
great importance. The UN Resolution 181 of 1947 provided for the partition of Palestine into
two separate and independent states, a Jewish state and an Arab state. When deliberating the
proposal in the Committee no reference was made to the potential actions of Hamas as a result
of the potential declaration of Palestine as an independent state, whether the group was likely
to adopt a more peaceful approach than before and whether the current authorities were likely
to be able to secure a strong enough authority to ensure a peaceful settlement with these
It is also important to point out what part the Israelis have played in bringing about the
current state of affairs. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories has for a long while
been far too excessive, by which the occupied have been deliberately provoked. The Minority
objects to this conduct, which has only delayed the peace negotiations and harmed the
willingness of the contracting party to join in further negotiations. The leaders of Iceland's
neighbouring countries are among those who have criticized Israel's conduct, including the
British Prime Minister, who in July 2010 declared that Israel's siege has turned the Gaza Strip
into a prison camp. That is a terrible description, but the Minority points to Althingi's
previous resolutions and demands that human rights be respected. Not least with reference to
this situation, it is important to proceed cautiously and take each step on the stage of
international politics with caution.
Recognition and the position of other states has much been discussed by the Committee. In
the explanatory memorandum to the proposal, there is a particular reference to the precedent
given by Iceland's recognition of the independence of the Baltic states in 1991. The Minority
absolutely rejects this comparison as that was a case of reclaiming independence.
It is mentioned in the explanatory memorandum to the proposal that 8 NATO members and
9 EU members support the independence and sovereignty of Palestine. It would have been
more appropriate to mention that a large majority, or 19 EU members and 21 NATO
members, have not recognized the independence and sovereignty of Palestine. The balance
would have been better preserved by carefully explaining why these countries have come to
the conclusion that recognition of independence under the current circumstance is not the
optimal position for the furtherance of the Peace Process. The Minority especially points out
that the recognitions referred to above were submitted in 1988, under the shadow of the Cold
War, and should above all be considered in the context of the countries’ position behind the
Iron Curtain and with regards to the political frontiers of the Cold War. We see a different
picture today when looking at the countries in question and how they treat this historical
recognition today. It is worth mentioning the recent voting on the admittance of Palestine to
the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO. There it turned out that
6 EU members and 7 NATO members that had previously recognized the independence and
sovereignty of Palestine could not support the admission of the same country. Palestine, even
if they had the same country. Nevertheless, the historical recognition of these countries is
submitted as a justification by the Minister for Foreign Affairs as these countries are indeed
our allies. The Minority is of the opinion that these countries’ present foreign policy
implementation should rather be considered. The precedents seem to be outdated and these
countries are left with historical recognitions that are inter alia inherited from the Cold War
The international community has approached this matter by taking preference to ensuring
peace before independence could be recognized as a result thereof. The position of the
Quartet, that has been in the forefront of the peace negotiations in recent times, is in
compliance with this. The Quartet has recently released a statement for decisive steps for
2012 on how this objective could be reached that year by concluding the peace negotiations
with an agreement. It may additionally be noted that the European Union has, in so far as it
has a common foreign policy, not agreed to support the independence and sovereignty of
Palestine at this point. That must be taken into consideration.
The Minority considers it important to note that countries, such as Norway, which has been
one of the most active parties to the solution of this dispute, have not been willing to take the
very step this proposal assumes Iceland should. These countries have clear arguments. The
main emphasis is on supporting the Peace Process and that certain conditions shall be met
before recognition can be given: that the peace negotiations have produced conclusive results,
that Palestine adheres to UN plans as defined by its resolutions, that they are the basis for the
founding of the state, that the country would respect the UN Charter and declarations of
human rights and that the Palestinians are ready to deal with tasks and duties resulting from
being a sovereign and an independent state with a solid infrastructure. These nations have also
noted the importance of declarations by the Palestinian leaders of their intentions to honour
and guard the basic values of democracy and human rights in the same way as the leaders of
Israel did at the establishment of the State of Israel. Important matters have thus emerged
regarding the policies of our neighbouring countries and are the main parties to this matter.
While Icelanders come to a conclusion on this important matter on their own terms, it is
also wise to observe the position of other countries and study on what basis their position is
taken. Aforementioned components should be taken into consideration by the Icelandic
authorities and be established as a criterion or a condition for reaching the conclusion the
Minister for Foreign Affairs considers the obvious choice to make. The large project – the
establishment of an independent state of Palestine, conciliation on the existence of the State of
Israel and peace in the region – has been a joint mission of the international community for
over half a century, and still is. Strong arguments are for supporting and adhering to the
emphasis made by the countries that have been in the forefront of the Peace Process. No one
can avoid doing this with full integrity.
The Minority emphasises that the objective has to be promoting peace at the battlefields of
the Arab-Israeli Conflict. It must be assessed what reasons our friends and neighbours have
for not being ready to proceed as far as is assumed in the proposal of the Minister for Foreign
Affairs. Could it be that they have doubts that a recognition would lead to peace? Would the
Icelandic authorities consider issuing conditions as the Norwegians have done? Could the
recognition of Palestine as an independent and sovereign state by several countries, at this
point, upset the Peace Process and possibly lead to war?
The Minority has significant reservations to the submitted proposal but reiterates its support
for a two-state solution.
Althingi, 28 November 2011.
Ragnheiður E. Árnadóttir.