Could Lithuania mediate in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks?

Dalia Grybauskaitė, Mahmoud Abbas
Sipa Press/Scanpix

“As a small country and a member of the UN Security Council, we can contribute to the peace process. This is what I suggested [to Mahmoud Abbas], that Lithuania could be involved, should both sides want that and trust us,” President Grybauskaitė said in a statement circulated after her meeting with the Palestinian leader on Tuesday.

However, although it is not unusual for conflicting states to invite third parties to mediate in their disputes, Lithuania would not be a likely choice, especially for the Palestinians, according to Professor Egdūnas Račius of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.

“For all the opportunities that there have been for Lithuania to support Palestine‘s statehood in the United Nations system, Lithuania either forewent them or openly opposed,” Račius told the radio Žinių Radijas.

Lithuania was one of very few nations to vote against Palestine’s membership in UNESCO in 2011. Lithuania does not recognize the State of Palestine and it abstained in the UN General Assembly vote on the 2012 resolution upgrading Palestine to non-member observer state status.

“In other words, the experience over the last several years, when the Palestinians tried and succeeded in becoming albeit not full-fledged members, but members nonetheless of the UN system, was that Lithuania was among the few countries that opposed it. A reluctant state like that cannot be seen as positively inclined and able to mediate. I cannot imagine the Palestinians wanting to see Lithuania mediate,” Račius said.

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