BRUSSELS - EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said that he wants the U.N. to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank to put pressure on Israel if it cannot strike a peace with the Palestinians.
Israeli officials quickly dismissed the proposal. Palestinian officials did not immediately respond.
Solana's spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said Monday that his weekend speech in London was meant to add to international efforts to put "maximum pressure" on both sides to get back to peace talks. She said his comments were made in a personal capacity and did not represent a shift in policy among European Union member states.
Solana said mediators trying to get the two sides back to peace talks should set a deadline for a peace accord and suggested the United Nations Security Council "proclaim the adoption of a two-state solution" and welcome a Palestinian state as "a full member of the U.N." if negotiations fail.
"If the two parties are not able to stick to it, then a solution backed by the International community should be put on the table," Solana said.
Solana did not address how a Palestinian state should be set up.
Solana, who will step down at the end of the year, represents the EU abroad and takes his orders from the 27 EU governments.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed his remarks as an attempt "to leave a legacy."
Lieberman told Israel Radio that previous peace accords in the Middle East "were never achieved by coercion but only by direct communication."
The resumption of peace talks is largely being held up at present by the issue of Israeli settlements, a major sticking point between the two sides. The Palestinians say they will go back to the table only when Israel freezes settlement construction, a call echoed by the U.S. But Israel inisists on continuing some construction to allow for the growth of settler families.