Danish Parliament Rejects Proposal to Recognize Palestinian State

Students gather near banners at an encampment at the University of Copenhagen's City Campus, at the old Municipal Hospital amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 6, 2024. (Reuters)
Students gather near banners at an encampment at the University of Copenhagen's City Campus, at the old Municipal Hospital amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 6, 2024. (Reuters)
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Danish Parliament Rejects Proposal to Recognize Palestinian State

Students gather near banners at an encampment at the University of Copenhagen's City Campus, at the old Municipal Hospital amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 6, 2024. (Reuters)
Students gather near banners at an encampment at the University of Copenhagen's City Campus, at the old Municipal Hospital amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 6, 2024. (Reuters)

Denmark's parliament rejected a proposal to recognize a Palestinian state on Tuesday, backing the government's view that the necessary conditions were not in place, despite a decision by Spain, Ireland and Norway to endorse independence.

Israel, which has found itself increasingly isolated after more than seven months of conflict with the Palestinian Hamas movement, which rules Gaza, has reacted furiously to the European moves.

The Danish bill had been proposed by four left-wing parties.

Sascha Faxe, member of parliament for The Alternative, said recognizing a Palestinian state was the only way to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East.

"The vast majority of Danish politicians agree that there will be no lasting peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution," she said in parliament, adding that she saw recognition as a way to give rights to ordinary Palestinians.

Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen had previously said the Danish government could not recognize a Palestinian state because it did not have a single functioning authority or control over its own territory.

Rasmussen did not take part in Tuesday's debate but has said he hopes Denmark will one day be able to give its backing to a Palestinian state.  

Earlier, the University of Copenhagen said it would halt investment in companies that do business in the occupied West Bank amid student protests pressuring the campus to cut financial and institutional ties with Israel.

Hundreds of students began campus protests in early May to express their opposition to Israel's operations in Gaza that were triggered by deadly attacks by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7. The students have demanded that the university cuts academic ties with Israel and divests from companies operating in occupied Palestinian territories.

The university will, as of May 29, divest its holdings worth a total of about 1 million Danish crowns ($145,810) in Airbnb, Booking.com and eDreams, it said in a post on social media platform X.

The university said it would work with fund managers to manage its investments and ensure they comply with a United Nations list of companies involved in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The University of Copenhagen has a yearly revenue of over 10 billion crowns, some of which is invested in bonds and equities.

Israel captured territories in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip after winning a 1967 war with neighboring Arab states.



US Renews Warning It’s Obligated to Defend the Philippines after Its New Clash with China at Sea

A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. (AP)
A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. (AP)
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US Renews Warning It’s Obligated to Defend the Philippines after Its New Clash with China at Sea

A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. (AP)
A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. (AP)

The United States renewed a warning Tuesday that it’s obligated to defend its close treaty ally a day after Filipino navy personnel were injured and their supply boats damaged in one of the most serious confrontations between the Philippines and China in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, officials said.

China and the Philippines blamed each other for instigating Monday’s hostilities in the Second Thomas Shoal, which has been occupied by a small Filipino navy contingent aboard a grounded warship that's been closely watched by Chinese coast guard, navy and suspected militia ships in a yearslong territorial standoff. There is fear the disputes, long regarded as an Asian flashpoint, could escalate and pit the United States and China in a larger conflict.

US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell discussed China's actions with Philippine counterpart, Maria Theresa Lazaro, in a telephone call. Both agreed that China’s “dangerous actions threatened regional peace and stability,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Campbell reaffirmed that the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which obligates Washington and Manila to help defend the other in major conflicts, “extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft – including those of its coast guard – anywhere in the South China Sea,” according to Miller.

A Philippine government task force overseeing the territorial disputes condemned what it said were “dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing,” which disrupted a routine effort to transport food, water and other supplies to the Filipinos manning the territorial outpost aboard the BRP Sierra Madre at the shoal.

“Despite the illegal, aggressive, and reckless actions by the Chinese maritime forces, our personnel showed restraint and professionalism, refrained from escalating the tension, and carried on with their mission,” the Philippine task force said without elaborating. “Their actions put at risk the lives of our personnel and damaged our boats in blatant violation of international law.”

The Chinese coast guard said the Philippines “is entirely responsible for this.” It said a Philippine vessel “ignored China’s repeated solemn warnings ... and dangerously approached a Chinese vessel in normal navigation in an unprofessional manner, resulting in a collision."

Two speedboats — attempting to deliver construction materials and other supplies to a military vessel stationed at the shoal — accompanied the supply ship, according to China’s Foreign Ministry, which described its coast guard’s maneuver as “professional, restrained, reasonable and lawful."

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said Monday night that his country’s armed forces would resist “China’s dangerous and reckless behavior,” which “contravenes their statements of good faith and decency."

“We will exert our utmost in order to fulfill our sworn mandate to protect our territorial integrity, sovereignty, and sovereign rights,” Teodoro said. “It should now be clear to the international community that China’s actions are the true obstacles to peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Several incidents have happened in recent months near the shoal which lies less than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from the nearest Philippines coast and where it maintains the Sierra Madre, which had become encrusted with rust since it was deliberately grounded in 1999 but remains an actively commissioned military vessel, meaning an attack on it could be considered by the Philippines as an act of war.

China has increasingly become assertive in pressing its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, which has led to a rising number of direct conflicts with other countries in the region, most notably the Philippines and Vietnam.

A new law by China, which took effect Saturday, authorizes its coast guard to seize foreign ships “that illegally enter China’s territorial waters” and to detain foreign crews for up to 60 days. The law renewed a reference to 2021 legislation that says China’s coast guard can fire upon foreign ships if necessary.

At least three coastal governments with claims to the waters — the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan — have said they would not recognize the law. Malaysia and Brunei are also involved in the long-seething territorial disputes, which are regarded as a delicate fault line in the longstanding US-China rivalry in the region.