Exeter, Devon UK • Jun 22, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home InternationalBeyond Exeter Spain, Norway and Ireland formally recognise Palestinian state

Spain, Norway and Ireland formally recognise Palestinian state

Eleanor Rogers explores the decision of the three countries and if others will join in supporting a 'two-state solution' to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
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Four young women take a selfie with the Palestine flag (hosnysalah via Pixabay)

The recognition of a state is largely symbolic. The recent acknowledgement of Palestinian statehood by Spain, Norway, and Ireland legitimises Palestine, but it also enables the potential exchange of diplomatic credentials and representatives in the region. Currently, the members of the UN General Assembly that recognise Palestine as a state sits at 146/193.

Part of the justification for the recognition of Palestine as a state, is the view that this will benefit the peace process. Proponents of a ‘two state solution’ argue that the acknowledgement of a Palestinian state is integral to the peace agreement and therefore this should come earlier rather than later in the peace process. The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, notes that the recognition is ‘not against Israel, is not against the Jews’, rather it is a step towards peace.

Israel’s perception of the acknowledgement of Palestine statehood differs. Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, regards this recognition as a ‘reward for terrorism’, while Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, has said that the three countries’ ambassadors will be shown videos of the October 7 attacks, in light of their decision.

“Proponents of a ‘two state solution’ argue that the acknowledgement of a Palestinian state is integral to the peace agreement and therefore this should come earlier rather than later in the peace process.”

The shift in peace making strategy raises the question of whether other countries will follow suit. So far, twelve European countries acknowledge Palestine as a state, the UK is not one of these. Earlier this year, the UK Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, suggested the possibility of recognizing a Palestine state. Cameron accepted that this cannot come at the end of the peace process, and may be considered as an ‘advance to a solution becomes more real’. The UK government has not given a timeframe for when this recognition may occur, but Cameron’s approach does indicate a more flexible foreign policy regarding Palestine.

Likewise, Labour Leader, Keir Starmer, is keen  to recognise a Palestinian state if he wins the upcoming General Election. Both major political parties lack a timeframe for this policy; the decision depends on when the policy will be most conducive in the peace process.

Increasingly, since October 7 Netanyahu has emphasized how the acknowledgement of a Palestinian state threatens Israel’s security. Countries such as the US and the UK are placed in a difficult position. On one hand, Gaza protests are placing significant domestic pressure on countries to take action and change policy to accelerate the peace process. To some, the recognition of a Palestinian state would help to end the conflict and establish a two state solution. On the other hand, those that emphasise Israel’s security in light of Hamas, view the acknowledgement of a Palestine state as undermining this security.

The US does not exhibit signs of imminently recognizing Palestine as a state, however policy on this area is being developed. Biden has previously shown support for a two state solution. More recently, the Biden administration has also investigated the possibility of recognizing the state of Palestine following the war in Gaza. It seems unlikely, however, that the US will offer this recognition of Palestine prior to the end of the war, given their supportive stance towards Israel at present.

While the three European Countries to recently recognise the state of Palestine marks a shift in foreign policy, the UK and US are ambivalent about the implementation of this policy. Both the UK and the US balance an obligation towards Israel’s security and defence alongside a strong commitment to a peace deal.

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