European Union governments sought a common approach on Friday to a possible Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month but deep policy differences looked set to undermine the efforts.
Austria's Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said one solution could be for the EU to propose its own resolution to the U.N. on the sensitive issue but other diplomats said privately that several EU capitals opposed the idea.
Speaking to reporters at a seaside resort in Poland, where EU foreign ministers met for two days of informal talks, Spindelegger said the bloc could use its previous statements on the Middle East as a basis for a common view.
"So far the positions in the EU are very divergent," Spindelegger told reporters. "I hope that we, as Europe, can send a signal ... and phrase a text which eventually might be brought before the (U.N.) assembly."
With peace talks with Israel frozen, the Palestinians have vowed to seek full U.N. membership for a state in the besieged Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital, during the assembly's next General Assembly in September.
The bid has little chance of success because of opposition from the United States which has said it would veto it at the Security Council.
A veto would prevent a vote from being held at the General Assembly but the Palestinians may seek an upgrade of their status instead which would bring the issue up for discussion at the forum.
As well aggravating tensions in the Middle East, for the EU, a vote at the U.N. could be deeply embarrassing, if members of the 27-state bloc split into opposing camps, with some backing Palestinian efforts and others opposing them.
Having its difficulties in forging a common view exposed would undermine the EU's efforts to become more influential in international affairs.
The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has tried to bolster the EU's global clout since taking the position in 2009, and in particular since the Arab Spring has created an opportunity for the EU to have a say in how new democracies in North Africa and the Middle East develop.
Ashton herself said in Sopot that EU capitals still had to time to decide how to act at the U.N. and said efforts should continue to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians in the meantime.
"I just came back from discussions with the leadership of the Palestinian authority and the Prime Minister of Israel ... on how we move forward to get negotiations moving," she told reporters.
"My objective is the resumption of negotiations so we can actually get to a settlement."
But foreign ministers speaking in Sopot underscored deeply ingrained differences in Europe.
Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said the EU needed to give support to the Palestinians and a bid for an upgrade of their status at the U.N.
"I cannot agree to say no," he said.
Dutch minister Uri Rosenthal expressed the opposite view, shared by EU powerbroker Germany, the United States and Israel, that the Palestinians should refrain from unilateral moves and push to resume peace negotiations instead.
"The Dutch position has been very clear ... we are totally against any unilateral steps whatever they might be and any step should be on the basis of any agreement of all the parties concerned," he said.
Conservative lawmakers say Britain should negotiate terms of its exit from the European Union before holding its next parliamentary election
Following successful end of Fallujah operation, Iraqi PM Abadi calls on Iraqis to celebrate the victory; announces fresh operation to liberate Mosul soon
'It's really important we stand guard against any rise in hate crimes or abuse by those who might use last week's referendum as cover to seek to divide us,' says London mayor
Britain's vote to leave EU could be a great opportunity, Italian PM Renzi says
Five people were killed in a spate of attacks in Iraq on Monday
France is the Saudi Arabia’s third largest foreign investor and the top oil importer from the Kingdom.
Authorities hope the completed project will increase economic development
For the first time, Article 50, the process that will pave the way for the UK to leave the EU with Boris Johnson suggesting that Britain should wait before actually starting that process.
The Czech Foreign Minister has said that Jean-Claude Juncker should resign over his failure to prevent the UK exit from the bloc
The move from Sudan is said to be first move of its kind between 2 countries since separation of South Sudan in 2011
With vote count almost complete, Popular Party gains seats, fails to break deadlock after inconclusive December polls
Haider al-Abadi has urged all Iraqis to celebrate recapture of Fallujah after more than two years of ISIL rule.
The Pope has said that a new "union" was needed to prevent the "Balkanisation" of Europe.
Canada will host Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and U.S. President Barack Obama in Ottawa next week
A neo-Nazi rally has erupted in violence after a stabbing spree injured ten people at the rally
Trump has hailed the UK over the Brexit providing fertile ground for Clinton to take a hit at Trumps' vested personal interest in his UK businesses