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OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Threats to recognize Palestinian state likely to backfire

Recognizing “Palestine” will do nothing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or help the Palestinian people.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili is a contributing editor at Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

President Joe Biden threatens to recognize a Palestinian state—likely as an attempt to salvage his re-election bid by appealing to anti-Israel voters. Other leaders, like British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, have also hinted at recognizing Palestinian statehood. This despite a preponderance of evidence that the Palestinians are not ready for statehood—nor do they deserve it. 

Above all, recognizing “Palestine,” will do nothing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—or in any way help the Palestinian people. To the contrary: It would exacerbate the situation by alienating Israel, rewarding terrorism, and imposing a two-state solution that neither Israelis nor Palestinians support. Indeed, the main obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian peace was never the absence of a Palestinian state, but abject Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state.  

Biden’s proposal makes no mention of Palestinians embracing a Jewish state. Nor does it require reforming the dysfunctional Palestinian dictatorships, which are corrupt, brutally repressive and lack a sustainable economy. Nor does the United States require a cessation of Palestinian terrorism against Israel. 

Moreover, the Palestinians lack even the most rudimentary requirements for statehood—a defined territory and a functional government. 

The president and U.S. Secretary of State Blinken ignore these obstacles, continuing to assert the problem is Israel’s refusal to accept a Palestinian state—despite Israel’s many generous offers of a state in the last 25 years, all rejected by the Palestinians.

Finally, perfunctory recognition of Palestinian statehood would violate international law, including the Oslo Accords and U.N. Security Council resolutions, which state that final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be through negotiations. 

Advocating for creation of a Palestinian state—let alone unconditionally proclaiming one—would be irresponsible without first providing solutions to five massive obstacles blocking such a state:

1. An “instant” state would increase the suffering of the Palestinian people. 

The Palestinian economy is bankrupt—and has never been self-sufficient. It is fully dependent on billions of welfare dollars from world powers, as well as cooperative relations with Israel. Made perfunctorily “independent,” the Palestinian economy would collapse even further—creating an economic and humanitarian disaster. Unemployment, already high, and the standard of living, already low, would both deteriorate.

In addition, since there are no stable governing or policing institutions—except those provided by Israel—Palestinian society would likely sink into bloody chaos. Thuggish jihadi militias would rule the streets, as security coordination with Israel would end. A future Palestinian state would likely resemble Somalia, Iraq or Syria, which lack effective governments that fully rule their countries. Already corrupt and repressive Palestinian rulers would likely become more so—or be deposed by Islamist terrorists like Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

2. International recognition of Palestinian statehood would resolve no outstanding issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

In fact, 139 of the United Nations’ 193 members already recognize Palestine as a state, but this has changed nothing on the ground—since declaring a state does not create a state. In addition to the obstacles above, such critical unsettled issues—such as borders, Jerusalem’s status, and the bogus right of return of descendants of Palestinian refugees—would remain sources of conflict. 

3. Recognizing a Palestinian state today would reward and incentivize terrorism.

From Israel’s perspective, a state with no negotiations would reward Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, sending a message to both the Palestinians and terrorist groups globally that terrorism pays. Palestinians would be incentivized to continue their attacks on Israel—hoping to “finish the job” of destroying the Jewish state.

A unilaterally established Palestinian state would also pose an existential threat to Israel and to the entire Middle East. It would likely become an Iranian satellite state, similar to Lebanon and Syria—right at the doorstep of Israel, America’s strongest Middle East ally. 

Moreover, U.S. sponsorship of a Palestinian state now would severely alienate Israel and compromise U.S.-Israel cooperation in the Middle East. Israel would also be less likely to accept a Palestinian state as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace. 

4. Recognizing a Palestinian state violates international law.

The Oslo Accords specifically state, “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” Imposing a Palestinian state would also violate U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which, like the Oslo Accords, call for a negotiated settlement to the permanent status of Judea and Samaria and Gaza.

5. The Palestinians do not meet fundamental requirements for statehood.

The Montevideo Convention, which took effect in 1934, specifies basic necessities for statehood: A permanent population, a defined territory and a government. The Palestinians do have a permanent population, but lack a defined territory and a stable government. 

In fact, Palestinians claim the entire land of Israel as their own, but this claim is not substantiated by international law. The Palestinians never had sovereignty or control over any territories. The Palestinian claim to Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) is disputed by Israel since this land was designated for a Jewish state by the Mandate for Palestine. Israel now controls this territory by virtue of defeating Jordan’s occupation and signing a peace treaty with the Hashemite kingdom. 

Finally, Palestinians’ only semblance of a government is the Palestinian Authority, which has disbanded its parliament, holds no elections and lacks control over the territory assigned to it under the Oslo Accords. Hamas seized control of Gaza from it in 2007, and the P.A.’s control over large stretches of Judea and Samaria has been erased by terrorist militias. 

Demanding recognition of “Palestine” assumes the two-state solution is a cure-all for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But lack of a Palestinian state does not block the conflict’s resolution. Rather, it is Palestinians’ refusal to accept a Jewish state. Indeed, a majority of Palestinians reject a country existing peacefully beside Israel. Their goal is actually to destroy the Jewish state and replace it with “Palestine,” “from the river to the sea.”

Instead of unconditionally recognizing a Palestinian state, Team Biden should demand the Palestinians demonstrate their a) ability and b) willingness to exist side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. to date, they’ve shown no evidence of either.

Originally published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East.

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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