Parliament’s foreign affairs committee blocked a vote on a proposal that aimed to condemn US recognition and use diplomatic means to push for a deescalation
Rabat – Germany’s parliament has cancelled its vote on proposals that would urge the German government to push for a resolution in Western Sahara. The parliament’s foreign affairs committee requested that the vote be cancelled. The German Bundestag would have debated and voted on a joint proposal by Alliance 90 and the Green party that condemns recent diplomatic developments and urges for a return to UN-guided negotiations.
The proposal, signed by the Green party’s leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt and biologist-turned-politician Anton Hofreiter, calls for a larger role for Germany in trying to push for a resolution and de-escalate tensions. It urges the German government to call for de-escalation in Western Sahara. It also demands a return to negotiations and a rapid appointment of a new UN envoy, a position that has been vacant since May 2019.
Furthermore, the proposal calls to involve France, other “European partners,” as well as the African Union and the United States to “prevent further escalation of the conflict.”
As for the EU’s role, the German proposal calls on European countries to adopt a common European stance on Western Sahara and help raise the issue at the United Nations Security Council.
Amid confusion regarding the prospects of the UN-led political process, the EU should increase its support for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in order to “bring both parties back to the negotiating table,” the proposal argued.
The diplomatic actions proposed in the German proposal are more or less in line with Morocco’s support for the UN led political process. However, the language used in the document highlights a potentially problematic stance.
The German proposal condemns American recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, saying that “pleasing peace treaties” cannot “undermine international law.” It added, most notably, “The German Bundestag condemns the US recognition of the illegal annexation of Western Sahara by Morocco.”
Describing the Western Sahara’s status as an “illegal annexation” is both disingenuous and incorrect as Samir Bennis showed in Foreign Policy magazine. Over the past 15 years, repeated UN resolutions and the positions taken by the international community have changed the region’s status which is subject to customary international law.
Bennis explained in his article that the argument for self-determination is no longer valid because of successive diplomatic moves that have changed its status. This consistency of practice dictates that Morocco’s autonomy plan is now the only realistic option to realize peace in the region.
In its added reasoning, the document further elaborates on the problematic stance taken by the left-wing parliamentary group that has submitted the proposal. It accuses Morocco of “invading the demilitarized zone,” referring to Morocco’s lifting of the Polisario blockade at the Guerguerat border.
Despite reports that Morocco only intervened after Polisario ignored and defied UN warnings for three weeks, the German proposal appeared to claim that it was Morocco that caused a “rupture” in the 29-year old ceasefire.
The proposal will not, however, be put up for debate on Friday, January 14. Meanwhile, had it If passed, the proposal could have resulted in Germany taking a larger role in pushing for a diplomatic solution.
The undiplomatic language used in the proposal however raises doubt whether Germany’s left wing alliance truly has a well-informed opinion on the Western Sahara and Morocco’s realistic peace proposal. The cancellation means that Germany’s foreign affairs committee will review the proposal without public discussion or votes.