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The meaning of the three EU countries’ recognition of the Palestinian State

May 30, 2024 at 8:00 am

A view of the Ramallah Municipality Building as the building adorned with flags of Spain, Ireland and Norway to express their gratitude following the countries formally recognise the State of Palestine, in Ramallah, West Bank on May 24, 2024 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Before the latest recognition of the Palestinian State by three European Union countries, a total of 143 countries have already done so. Now that Ireland, Norway and Spain have followed suit, that total reaches 145 countries out of 193 countries that are members of the United Nations. This is over three-quarters of the UN member states which now recognise the State of Palestine. In the UN General Assembly’s 11 May vote, the 143 countries sent a strong signal to the remaining few that Palestine is a full member, encapsulating all meaning of membership.

This is a great achievement for the Palestinian people as they continue to pay with flesh and blood to gain independence from one of the most heinous criminal occupations humanity has ever known.

Indeed, the UN Security Council voted not to admit Palestine as a full UN member because the US vetoed that motion, but that is beside the point; the point here is that genocidal Israel keeps losing politically and diplomatically, while Palestine has become the focal rallying point across the globe. Over the last few weeks, the Occupation state has suffered more diplomatic and political setbacks than it has suffered in its entire short history of 76 years.

Despite 12 UNSC members supporting full UN membership, only the US used its veto to silence the rest of the world, making the Council even more unfair to Palestine than it has always been. But, despite the US rogue veto, Palestine has now gained an enhanced status at the UN, short only of casting a vote, but it can propose agenda and take active part in debates. In fact, this is like being a full member, since the end result of any Palestine introduced agenda or debate, within the UN General Assembly, is likely to be approved by the majority of members.

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Angry Israel responded to the latest move by the three EU countries by recalling its ambassadors to all three states, further isolating itself. Tel Aviv also threatened more immoral measures such as banning all diplomatic and political contacts between the representatives of the three countries and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

But, in reality, this will only further weaken Israel’s standing on the world stage while tarnishing whatever remained of its bloody image as it continues to murder more Palestinian women and children in Gaza.

Israel, with a long history of disregarding the UN and its resolutions, rejects the idea of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza. It does not even accept the historical fact that Palestinians exist as a nation and a unique ethnic group, instead working to eliminate them, as seen in Gaza.

The current Israeli government believes a Palestinian State is a threat to its own security without actually offering any other viable alternative to the Palestinian people. Its UN representative, Gilad Erdan, trashed the world body for recognising the Palestinian State by telling the General Assembly, after voting to admit Palestine as a full member, that  it just “welcomed a terror state” into its ranks—diplomatically speaking, he recognised Palestine as State by using the word “state” himself, despite describing it as a terror state! He even accused the majority of nations of being “Jew haters” and the UN to have lost the last “ounce of legitimacy or relevance.”

Mr. Erdan, as if he was addressing schoolchildren, reiterated before the world diplomats, the long since debunked claim that Hamas decapitated babies during its daring attack on Israel last October. But the world is no longer buying Israeli lies and fake reports.

In essence, the recognition of the Palestinian State means not only that the Palestinian people have the right to their own State, but it also shows worldwide and overwhelming support for them, granted at the highest international podium—the UN.

Many of the countries that have recognised Palestine as a State have done so, they say, for the sake of peace. They essentially believe that peace can only prevail if and when the Palestinian people have their own independent State.

Interestingly enough, even the US, Israel’s strongest political supporter and its top financier in both war and peace, does prescribe to that idea. It has long been preaching to the world about the two state solution and, even now, while helping Israel commits genocide in Gaza. The US’s official position is that, eventually, a Palestinian State must be established, but only through negotiations with Israel. It did not say the same thing when it, quickly, recognised Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence over seven decades earlier.

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The significance of more EU countries recognising the Palestinian State piles more pressure on the rest of the bloc and further embarrasses Washington, as it continues to resist the international community’s overwhelming majority. It also incentivises more EU country to do the same. Malta, Slovenia and Belgium are now considering when, not if, they will recognise the State of Palestine.

Even France, another traditional Israeli supporter, particularly under President Emmanuel Macron, might be soon considering the idea. Last February, Mr. Macron said that recognition of a Palestinian State is “no longer a taboo” for Paris. His Foreign Minister, Stéphane Séjourné, reiterated the same position in a 22 May statement. France, like many other Western countries, is frustrated by the Israeli refusal to move forward on the so-called two state solution and the mounting civilians death in Gaza—over 36,000 mainly women and children have been killed, so far.

However the most important aspect of the latest round of recognition by EU members is the fact that it forces the entire bloc to start discussing its overall position towards Israel. For the first time, we are hearing EU voices calling for sanctions to be imposed on Israel including, maybe, suspension of cooperation agreements and most-favoured-nation status Tel Aviv has been enjoying since 1995. The bloc’s 27 foreign ministers concluded their monthly meeting on 27 May by calling on Israel to “implement the recent ruling of the ICJ” which ordered it to halt its operations in Rafah and allowing the access of humanitarian aid into Gaza. That ruling has been the biggest legal blow to Israel, so far.

Between 11 May and today, the Occupation state has suffered more diplomatic and political setbacks than it has suffered in its entire short history of 76 years. The repercussions of the latest move by the three EU countries are likely to be translated into economic and political losses for Israel in the coming months.

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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.