OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

The absurdity of recognizing a Palestinian state

Rewarding Palestinian rejectionism will exacerbate, not end the conflict.

A Palestinian dragging bags of fruit passes a mural depicting late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
A Palestinian dragging bags of fruit passes a mural depicting late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Gregg Mashberg
Gregg Mashberg is a member of the board of directors of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism. Follow him on X @gregg_mashberg

The push by the U.S. and the U.K. to recognize a Palestinian state in the wake of Oct. 7 can’t even be called a “Hail Mary pass.” It’s a surrender to failure and intellectual cowardice.

It is a surrender to failure because the two-state paradigm has failed repeatedly. And it has failed because the Palestinians rejected it. The precedent was set in 2000 when Yasser Arafat walked away from Bill Clinton’s Camp David summit. He did so after then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat everything he claimed he wanted. Rather than accept, Arafat said no and made no counteroffer. Afterward, Clinton told Arafat, “I’m a failure and you have made me one.”

It was downhill from there. Arafat’s successor, Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, spurned former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s even more generous offer in 2008 and blew up then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative in 2014.

There’s more than one way to say “no.” Abbas’s P.A. also spews hateful venom against Jews, subsidizes terrorism with its “pay-to-slay” policy, and names public squares and streets for the most notorious Palestinian terrorists. Even now, the P.A., which has never condemned the Oct. 7 massacre, is actively seeking to reconcile with Hamas. All of this says “no” to a two-state solution as emphatically as slamming the door on negotiations.

Now, with Israelis and Jews around the world in deep trauma and Palestinians showing overwhelming support for the Oct. 7 atrocities despite the catastrophic consequences to Gazans, the U.S. and U.K. are back where they started. They refuse to accept the bitter and inescapable reality that the two-state solution is deader than it’s ever been. Instead, they have decided that recognizing Palestinian statehood is the answer to their distress. Except this time, rather than viewing statehood as a product of negotiations, they’ve thrown up their hands and said, “Let’s just recognize Palestinian statehood and see what happens.” The U.S. and U.K. want to jump-start a car that doesn’t have any wheels.

We must ask: Will recognition of a Palestinian state be conditioned on resolving other “final status” issues? Will the Palestinians be required to relinquish their insistence that millions of Palestinian “refugees”—most of whom are not refugees—have a “right of return” to Israel? Will the Palestinians have to agree to end their conflict with Israel? Will recognition of “Palestine” as yet another Arab/Muslim state be accompanied by a requirement that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

The answer to these questions is undoubtedly “no.” The West has always lacked the will to challenge Palestinian intransigence. They tremble at the inevitable Palestinian “no’s” to any concessions. So, the West won’t demand any. If knows that, if it did, the gambit would be dead on arrival.

So, if the U.S. and U.K. proceed down the recognition route, they’ll give the Palestinians a coveted diplomatic prize in return for absolutely nothing. The U.S. can say that Israel’s security will be safeguarded until it’s blue in the face, but history has demonstrated that if Palestinians are good at anything, they’re good at terrorism—see Gaza.

Recognition is also intellectual cowardice. Even now, the West cannot process the true nature of this conflict. It will not accept the bitter truth that Hamas and its myriad Palestinian supporters will not accept Jewish sovereignty in any part of the Land of Israel. It’s literally against their religion. The Palestinians have made this clear in every manner possible—violence, incitement, revanchism, etc. Faced with this terrible reality, the West simply chooses to block it out. Instead, it insists on seeing the conflict in geopolitical terms, as a tough real estate dispute.

But continuing to look away from the true nature of the conflict won’t make it go away. It will only make it worse.

The idea of recognizing a Palestinian state under such circumstances does not even merit being called an idea. It’s failure and cowardice masquerading as diplomacy.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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