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Portugal joins string of EU nations backing a Palestinian state

The Portuguese parliament has called on the government to recognise the state of Palestine 'as independent and sovereign'
Portugal is among a handful of European parliaments to back a Palestinian state in recent months (AA)

Portugal's parliament has adopted a resolution calling on the government to recognise the state of Palestine, as the country moves to become the latest in a string of European states to back Palestinian statehood.

The motion, filed jointly by the ruling centre-right majority and the opposition Socialist party on Friday, proposed "recognising, in coordination with the European Union, the state of Palestine as independent and sovereign" within pre-1967 borders.

Foreign Minister Rui Machete said after the vote that the government "will choose the moment best suited" to recognise a Palestinian state, and added the government was "sensitive to parliament's call".

The motion also called on the Portuguese government to continue promoting dialogue and peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine. Lawmakers who backed the measure said "only talks can guarantee security and peace in the region".

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, welcomed the move, saying it reflected unanimity among Portugal's various political parties in support of the Palestinian people's "legitimate rights".

A wave of European recognition

Portugal is the latest among a handful of European countries to have recently backed Palestinian statehood.

France's upper house voted on Thursday to urge its government to recognise Palestine, which came right after a similar motion in the Irish parliament on Wednesday. 

Lawmakers in Britain and Spain have already passed their own motions and Sweden officially recognised Palestine as a state, in a move that prompted Israel to recall its ambassador.

Israel has condemned these motions, with the country saying France's Senate vote, for example, "hinders the possibility to advance towards peace and sends a wrong message to the Palestinians, who do not wish to negotiate".

Palestinians are pushing for a state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, and with its capital in East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel in a move that remains unrecognised by the international community.

With little progress on reaching a negotiated settlement with Israel, they have been lobbying foreign powers for international recognition.

The votes across Europe come as tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been building, and after Israel's 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip over the summer.