Weekly Update: The dangers of recognizing Palestinian statehood

23 May 2024

This week Norway, Ireland and Spain announced that they recognize Palestine as a state. ‘The Norwegian Government has decided that Norway will recognize Palestine as a state,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said, as he explained that the move was his country’s response to the Gaza war.

“Recognition is an act of powerful political and symbolic value,” Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said at a special news conference in Dublin. “It is an expression of our view that Palestine holds and should be able to vindicate the full rights of the state, including self-determination, self-governance, territorial integrity, and security, as well as recognizing Palestine’s obligations under international law,” he stressed.

These are very naive statements that seem to reflect little understanding of the realities in the region.

In 2012, 138 states voted to grant Palestine “non-member observer state status” in the United Nations. This does not mean these states all recognized Palestine as a state. Most states insist that Palestinian statehood can only come about by means of negotiations with Israel.

The state of Palestine does not in fact exist. This is because it does not satisfy the international law criteria of statehood. One of the most important criteria is that a state must have an effective and independent government able to exercise exclusive authority over a territory. The Palestinian Authority exercises only limited authority (in Areas A and B in the West Bank).

This is a very important requirement, because it seeks to ensure that failed states are not created.

What does exist is the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), an entity that rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. The PLO entered into the Oslo Agreements with Israel in the 1990s. Since 2011, the PLO has been trying to by-pass negotiations and achieve independent statehood through the United Nations. That is why the PLO seeks UN membership, and has sponsored claims against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Criminal Court (ICC).

Recognizing a state that is not yet able to form a stable government under the rule of law is very dangerous. It gives the PLO the idea that it does not need to reform or make territorial or other concessions to ensure Israel’s security. The PLO should be pressured to ensure that extremist entities like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad cannot, and will not, take over control of a future Palestinian state.

The reality is that the PLO and Palestinian Authority are unable to exercise control in the West Bank or Gaza. Hamas and other Islamist jihad groups are gaining in popularity and power.

Palestinian statehood is intrinsically connected with the power struggles in the region, especially Iran. In addition to its support of proxies in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Iran is the main sponsor of Hezbollah and Hamas, each dedicated to Israel’s destruction. This week, Iranian President Raisi was one of several leaders killed in a helicopter crash in Iran. During a funeral for President Raisi, attended by tens of thousands at Tehran University, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to supporting the Palestinian cause. Addressing Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Khamenei declared, “The promise to eliminate Israel will be kept, and we will see the day when Palestine extends from the sea to the river.”

It is therefore not surprising that Israel responded strongly to the announcement by Norway, Ireland and Spain. Foreign Minister Katz stated:

“This distorted step by these countries is an injustice to the memory of the victims of 7/10, a blow to efforts to return the 128 hostages, and a boost to Hamas and Iran’s jihadists, which undermines the chance for peace and questions Israel’s right to self-defense. Israel will not remain silent—there will be further severe consequences. If Spain follows through on its intention to recognize a Palestinian state, a similar step will be taken against it.The Irish-Norwegian folly does not deter us; we are determined to achieve our goals: restoring security to our citizens, dismantling Hamas, and bringing the hostages home. There are no more just causes than these.”

The Editorial team
Israel & Christians Today

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Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against His anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
5 He rebukes them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath, saying,
6 “I have installed My King on Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are My son; today I have become your Father.
8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate His rule with trembling.
12 Kiss His son, or He will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction,
for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.