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The consequences of symbolic recognition of Palestine

November 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Israeli forces deny Palestinian worshippers, under 40, entry through the Qalandiya checkpoint from Ramallah into Jerusalem on 16 June 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Seeking recognition of Palestine has been one of the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic strategies which lose significance when juxtaposed against Mahmoud Abbas’s collaboration with the Israeli occupation. Behind statements of recognition lies silence and the tacit acceptance of Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land and forced displacement of the indigenous people. Other than the obsolete two-state paradigm, there has been little discussion of what such recognition actually means in practice, or whether it could generate a tangible outcome for Palestinians.

On Monday, during an official visit to Spain, Abbas urged the Spanish parliament to recognise Palestine, “so that Palestine and Israel can live side-by-side in security, stability and good neighbourly relations, which will bring hope in a better future for Palestine and its people who have suffered from historical injustice when they were uprooted from their homeland in the 1948 Nakba and the occupation of the rest of our land in 1967.”

According to Wafa news agency, Abbas also reiterated his support for international impositions, including “efforts by [US] President [Donald] Trump’s administration to achieve a historic peace deal.” Presumably Abbas is referring to the latest wheeze from Washington; according to Haaretz, the US State Department has threatened to shut down the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the country if it does not embark upon negotiations with Israel and instead seeks recourse through the International Criminal Court for Israel’s war crimes. PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat stated that all communication with the US would be halted if such a threat materialises.

Read: Despite his talk of ‘reconciliation’, Abbas continues to act in Israel’s interests

However, with an entity that is bolstered by both the US and Israel, continuing or halting diplomatic communication will ultimately continue to reveal the degree of collaboration that is ongoing, with the PA on the bottom rung and through which decisions detrimental to Palestinians continue to be imposed. Whether countries recognise Palestine or not, Israel and the US continue a seamless plan to strip away Palestinians from their land. Clearly, symbolic recognition is neither helping nor hindering Palestine’s diplomatic efforts. It is merely a symbol of the PA purportedly attempting to take a stand for Palestinian rights.

Palestine has become many things, depending upon the interests of the actors involved. Colonialism constituted the first laceration between land and people. For the international community, it has been simplified into a “question” to be debated at regular intervals but never answered. Abbas, on the other hand, has followed the trajectory of exploiting Palestine after allowing Israel to continue its expansion. The ensuing question is, therefore, what recognition is Abbas demanding from governments? If there was no two-state imposition, what would constitute recognition of Palestine?

Read: Abbas keeps silent regarding Israel attack on Gaza

As things stand, recognition of Palestine upon Abbas’s demand also implies recognition of the PA’s concessions to Israel which have resulted in divesting Palestinians of their land. This is in line with Israel’s colonial ambitions. If Palestine and Palestinians become two separate, isolated entities, there will be no obstacle to expansion, since the international community is in agreement regarding its refusal to take a stand in favour of decolonisation. Perhaps, to complete the PA’s quest for symbolic recognition, some fragments of Palestinian territory will remain for the purpose of creating a symbolic rump Palestinian state that makes a mockery of historic Palestine, all of which rightfully belongs to all Palestinians.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.