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Recognition of the State of Palestine

Recognition of the State of Palestine

The independence of the State of Palestine was declared as a “state in exile” by Yasser Arafat in Algeria on Nov. 15, 1988. The political actors who declared the state were not controlling the Palestinian lands. Although Palestine was defined under the conditions before the Six-Day War in 1967, in line with the decisions made by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, all of its territory continued to remain de facto under Israeli occupation. For this reason, the concept of the State of Palestine is generally used geographically for the “occupied Palestinian lands.” As of today, more than 5 million people still live in the “occupied Palestinian territories.”

The independence of the State of Palestine was declared as a “state in exile” by Yasser Arafat in Algeria on Nov. 15, 1988. The political actors who declared the state were not controlling the Palestinian lands. Although Palestine was defined under the conditions before the Six-Day War in 1967, in line with the decisions made by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, all of its territory continued to remain de facto under Israeli occupation. For this reason, the concept of the State of Palestine is generally used geographically for the “occupied Palestinian lands.” As of today, more than 5 million people still live in the “occupied Palestinian territories.” Following the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, the Palestinian National Authority was established to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip regions. After Israel withdrew from Gaza, this region remained under the control of Hamas. As of today, the West Bank is under partial control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the Gaza Strip is under partial control of Hamas. However, the sovereignty of Palestinian actors in both regions is subject to serious restrictions. Israel has transformed both the West Bank and Gaza into prisons closed to the outside world. Unfortunately, this situation is ignored by world public opinion, because the Western global powers such as the United States, England, Germany and France have been considering Israel as a state above international law and all norms. The State of Palestine, which has been officially recognized by 143 countries, 139 of which are U.N. members, including Türkiye, Russia, China and India, has held the status of a “non-member observer state” in the U.N. since 2012. In a recent vote held at the U.N. General Assembly, Palestine’s request to become a fully independent state was welcomed by 138 countries, while only nine states opposed this decision. Forty-one states abstained. In addition, the State of Palestine is a member of many international organizations such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Arab League, the G-7, the International Olympic Committee and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Needless to say, almost all of the states that recognize Palestine’s independence are non-Western countries. Western European countries, as well as the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, have so far refrained from officially recognizing Palestine’s independence. Even though these states declare in their statements that they are in favor of a two-state solution in the Palestinian territories, they continue to refuse to recognize the Palestinian state. In particular, the U.S., Israel’s closest supporter, used its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to prevent Palestine from being officially recognized as an independent state that is a member of the U.N., which was recorded as a great injustice to the Palestinian people.

European recognition of Palestine

As a reaction to Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza since Oct. 7, many countries decided to recognize the State of Palestine. In this sense, the first reaction of the Gaza genocide came from the Caribbean and South American countries. In the first half of 2024, Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago announced that they recognized the State of Palestine. The fact that these countries are small and relatively ineffective caused their recognition decisions to not make much noise in international public opinion. However, the decision taken by three countries from Western Europe (Spain, Norway, and Ireland) made a big impact on international politics. Sweden was the first European Union member state to recognize Palestine as a state. The Swedish Parliament officially recognized the State of Palestine on Oct. 30, 2014. Apart from Sweden, Central and Eastern European countries (Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia), which were former countries of the Eastern Bloc, recognized Palestine. The states of Spain, Norway and Ireland announced that they would recognize the State of Palestine on May 28, with successive statements in the third week of May. Thus, the issue of recognition of Palestine as a fully independent state within the 1967 borders was once again on the world’s agenda. This decision was, first of all, a decision that Israel did not expect and did not want at all. Israeli officials reacted very harshly to the possibility that the decision taken by these Western European states would put serious pressure on other Western European countries and the possibility of the collapse of the Zionist discourse on which Israel is based. Israeli politicians declared that recognizing Palestine as a state meant supporting Hamas. Thus, they try to deter Western governments from recognizing the State of Palestine. Besides Palestinians, many Arab and Muslim countries were very pleased with the decision made by these three Western European countries. For example, in the official statement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was stated that Türkiye was very pleased with “the announcements by Ireland, Norway and Spain that they will recognize the State of Palestine.” In the same statement, it was emphasized that “recognition of Palestine is a requirement of international law, justice and conscience.” It was also stated that Türkiye will continue to make efforts for more countries to recognize Palestine” and that the statement made by three important European states was “an extremely important step in terms of restoring the usurped rights of the Palestinian people under occupation and achieving the status Palestine deserves in the international community.”

A step toward regional change

The recognition decision of three European states may not enable the State of Palestine to emerge as a fully independent and effective political entity in the short term, but this recognition should be seen as a very important step that will trigger many changes in the region. First of all, it will ensure the collapse of the political discourse of Zionist Israel, which had been dominating the whole world until very recently. Israel has caused great disappointment in many European states and their peoples with the genocide it has committed in the last eight months. The true face of Israel has been revealed and the misperceptions it created have been largely destroyed. The Zionist political discourse has suffered a major blow thanks to the global intifada that has been carried out by people all over the world and the decisions and attitudes of more and more governments. Israel’s victimhood literature has now begun to lose its credibility even in the West. The military and political support provided by the governments and public segments of some Western states will no longer be sufficient for Israel since more and more Westerners turn against the brutality of Israel. Second, this decision will put serious pressure on both Zionist Israel and its accomplices, the Western global powers. The main supporters of the Zionist genocide, namely the Western global powers such as the U.S., the U.K., Germany and France, will be subjected to more pressure from both their own people and the international community. Even if all world states officially recognize the State of Palestine, the reality, the oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel, on the ground will continue as long as the Israeli occupation under the auspices of the U.S. continues. It is clear that no one country can challenge the military power of the U.S. However, the global recognition of the State of Palestine and the global criticism against Israel and its accomplices will continuously increase the cost of supporting genocide. Sooner or later, the U.S. and other Western governments will be forced to say “enough” to Israeli atrocities. Third, this decision of recognition will encourage and even force the states that have so far hesitated to recognize Palestine to take a similar step. The possibility that other European states that do not recognize Palestine as a state will take the same step is higher than ever. Because no state can afford to be on the wrong side of history for a long time, to the detriment of its national interests. For example, Malta and Slovenia have already announced that they may recognize Palestine. As of today, the wind blowing against Israel and in favor of the Palestinian people on a global scale will also lead to an increase in similar recognition decisions. Therefore, despite all the pressures of Israel's genocidal Benjamin Netanyahu government and the Zionist lobby in the West, other Western states are expected to take similar steps and recognize Palestine. All in all, Israel and its accomplices, the Western global powers, have been insistently violating all universal humanitarian norms and all principles of international law. They had already put the final nail in the coffin of the international system. They are breaking record after record in human rights violations. Of course, from now on, the Western global states will not be able to give moral lessons to anyone and will not be able to expect anyone to obey the rules, since they have completely lost their credibility in the eyes of other states and peoples. Recognition of the State of Palestine and requesting Israel to stop its ongoing genocide against innocent people in Gaza is the last exit before the bridge for the Western global powers since they are the main actors that can cause a real change on the ground. In other words, it is time for the Western countries to turn to reality and to see the unrestricted oppression of the Israeli state in the Palestinian lands. It should not be forgotten that Palestine will be accepted as a sovereign state in Palestinian lands and the Palestinian people will have the opportunity to determine their right of self-determination only when the Israeli occupation ends. [Daily Sabah, May 28, 2024]
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