Blog AnalysisIsrael Palestine

Is the recognition of a Palestinian state harmful to peace?

(BRUSSELS2, opinion) European embarrassment regarding the request for recognition of the Palestinian state at the UN this week is clearly visible. Because this request appears to participate, objectively, in the European objective of having a solution based on “coexistence of two States, with a State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, coexisting in peace and security“. Of course, Europeans have always advocated that this solution be obtained through negotiations. But for several months, even years, this negotiation has been blocked. And time and again, the ministers of the 27 express their “ regret ", their " disappointment ", their " deep concern to see these negotiations blocked (*).

Isn't there a moment when you have to change gear, redistribute the cards in your hand to cause a movement? In this hypothesis, the Palestinian Authority's request seems all the more legitimate since the Palestinians have, this time, chosen to take action, not through violence or in a terrorist manner as in the past, but through most peaceful way and through the most international channel possible, namely the United Nations. All notions (multinational enclosure, peaceful action, etc.) that Europeans regularly defend.

Considering that this will harm the peace process seems a very pale excuse. This process does not exist. The indirect talks relaunched in May 2010 have stalled. And we cannot say that the Israeli state is doing much to make it happen. Currently what is harming the peace process is the construction of new settlements, carried out to the detriment of international law by the Israeli government, and regularly condemned verbally by international authorities. We can no longer count the declarations of the Quartet or the EU made recently on this subject (one per month at least).

Paradoxically, the existence of a State – even an unrecognized one – should thus facilitate equal negotiation. Indeed, it will not be easy for Israel, which will now be placed in a much more difficult situation than in the past. But the mythology of the good Israeli versus the bad Palestinian has been outdated for a long time, because the realities are so much more complex and much more blurred.

Even if the situations are slightly different, one cannot help but notice that in the situation in Kosovo, a “state” recognized by a much smaller proportion than that of Palestine, the Europeans have adopted a significantly different attitude. We did not wait to recognize the State until it had resolved – in a negotiation process – all these questions with neighboring States, notably Serbia, so that most European States would recognize it and provide it with their support. Nor can we say that the existence of Kosovo has harmed peace. It is the existence of the Kosovar State which makes it possible to better negotiate a peaceful “separation” with Serbia and not its non-recognition. The same should be true for Palestine.

The EU should push for the resumption of a negotiation process. But it must not make this process a game of barter against the abandonment of the process of recognition of a State. One cannot be linked to the other.

(*) July 18, 2011: “The EU continues to believe that urgent progress is needed towards a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU reiterates its concern at the continuing stalemate in the Peace Process and calls on the parties to show the highest sense of responsibility and to resume direct and substantive talks.
May 23, 2011: “The EU is deeply concerned about the continuing stalemate in the Peace Process and calls for the urgent resumption of direct negotiations leading to a comprehensive solution on all tracks.”
December 13, 2010: “The EU believes that urgent progress is needed towards a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” December 8, 2009. “The Council of the European Union is seriously concerned about the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process. The European Union calls for the urgent resumption of negotiations that will lead, within an agreed time-frame, to a two-state solution with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.”

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).