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Genocide, recognising a Palestinian State and the two-state paradigm

May 23, 2024 at 8:00 pm

Protester with keffiyeh and ‘Gaza silence on genocide’ sign during the rally in support of the Palestinian people of Gaza held in Toulouse, south-west France, on April 27, 2024 [PAT BATARD/Hans Lucas/AFP via Getty Images]

“President Biden … has been equally emphatic on the record that the two-state solution should be brought about through direct negotiations through the parties, not for unilateral recognition,”  White House National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan, stated during a news briefing. Ireland, Spain and Norway’s decision to recognise a Palestinian State at a time of genocide is a belated symbolic act which the US is clearly displeased with, despite each country’s political autonomy.

If the symbolic gesture is to hold any meaning, however, it must be divested from the two-state narrative which is also part of the genocidal actions Israel is performing in Gaza.

So far, judging by the statements, the recognition is far from reaching practical political significance. Norway’s Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Store, equated the decision with purported equivalence: “two states, living side by side, in peace and security”. A Palestinian State will not stop Israel from committing genocide. Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, stated, “We’re not going to allow the possibility of the two-state solution to be destroyed by force because it’s the only just and sustainable solution to this terrible conflict.” Wrong. The two-state paradigm enabled Israel to colonise Palestine further. And, besides, the decolonial alternative exists. Ireland’s Prime Minister evoked the image of security and peace with neighbours, referring to the coloniser and the colonised. But world leaders know enough of colonialism to recognise that peace is not synonymous with colonisation.

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Of course, the US would prefer negotiations to eclipse any recognition of a Palestinian State. Negotiations and the absence of them are also part of the political process that led to the current genocide in Gaza. But what Ireland, Spain and Norway are offering is still tethered to the two-state compromise. If it were not for the genocide unfolding in plain sight, the news would have been relegated to an announcement irksome to Israel. Even if the gesture is not backed by political action supporting decolonisation – the statements clearly show the leaders’ intent to safeguard the two-state diplomatic trajectory – Israel committing genocide in Gaza makes a belated, symbolic recognition of Palestine significant because, at the very least, it asserts the ongoing existence of the Palestinian people in the face of the ongoing genocide.

Israel is intent on eliminating Palestinians from Gaza and the US is diligently aiding Israel with its weapons shipments. Recognition of a Palestinian State at such a time puts the gesture in direct conflict with what Israel and the US are trying to achieve, even if the statements by Norway, Ireland and Spain have kept to the conventional narrative. What happens next is of far greater consequence.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likely facing an international arrest warrant, which part of diplomacy will European countries want to preserve? And how much validity will the two-state compromise retain? It is one thing to harp on a defunct paradigm, but genocide not only can eliminate a population but also the diplomacy that Europe prides itself upon. It is up to any country that recognised Palestine to rethink its politics and diplomatically corner the US and Israel into isolation, by thinking beyond the two-state paradigm and relate the recognition of a Palestinian State to Palestinian decolonisation and liberation.

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