The implications of recognizing a Palestinian State

While Mahmoud Abbas was received Thursday by his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, the debate on the international recognition of a State of Palestine resumed. The spokesman of France to the United Nations said yesterday that the issue was regularly discussed within the European institutions, and many are the ones who point to the next General Assembly of the United Nations as a possible deadline. However while the number of supporters of this initiative is increasing, the question of the relevance of this recognition must still be asked.

At the end of 2010, international news was marked by the recognition by many countries in Latin America of a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders. The initiative came from a request by the Palestinian Authority and seemed to be aimed at supporting the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s project of the establishment de facto of a Palestinian state in 2011.

This week, an opinion published on Al Jazeera arguing against the plans of the Palestinian Authority. Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the online news site The Electronic Intifada, sees nothing less than  » a strategy of desperation from a Palestinian leadership that has run out of options, lost its legitimacy, and become a serious obstacle in the way of Palestinians regaining their rights ». As he points out, independent states like Lebanon and Syria did not lead more successfully to any pressure on Israel. On the other hand, recognizing a fragmented and embryonic state as Palestine is today, is, according to him, similar to the recognition of South African Bantustans, and may serve the struggle of the Palestinian people to recover their rights.

Ali Abunimah’s arguments are certainly persuasive, but still the will is there to keep the diplomatic momentum to the work. EU prepares indeed perhaps to take an initiative regarding the peace process. Let us not discourage this, but let us force it to ask the “why” and “what after” questions. To recognize the Palestinian state, fine, but what for? And after will the EU go back to rest on its laurels, content with the progress of its foreign policy? If this is the case, please let it preserve the Palestinians and refuse to recognize the « State of Palestine ». Such a move must indeed be accompanied by his matching policy, which means to put pressures on the Israeli government in order for it to proceed to the dismantling of all settlements and the wall built beyond the Green Line.

Nathalie Janne d’Othée