The Dangers of Premature Recognition of a Palestinian State
Background and Update
The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership has indicated they will pursue a strategy that has become known as Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). While the exact course of their actions is not known, it may include seeking full membership or some form of enhanced status in the United Nations (UN). The implications of UDI are significant. It rejects the long-standing consensus of the peace process for a negotiated settlement by instead using the UN as a vehicle to isolate and build diplomatic pressure on Israel.
A unilateral declaration of statehood undermines existing agreed international frameworks for Israeli Palestinian negotiations and binding bilateral agreements between the parties, all of which call for the parties to work together, side-by-side, to resolve the conflict and settle all permanent status issues (borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security, water) in a mutually agreed upon manner, and bar unilateral actions. President’s Obama’s recent speech also echoed this sentiment and stressed that lasting peace will only be achieved by a negotiated and mutually-agreed upon approach, not by unilateral political maneuvers.
The premature recognition of a Palestinian State will serve only to deepen and intensify the historic conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, not to resolve it. Indeed, according to an August 28th report in The Jerusalem Post, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians will continue to demand the right of return for millions of refugees to their original homes inside Israel even after the UN recognizes a Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967, lines.
The premature recognition of a Palestinian state will leave all, if not most, of the permanent status issues as set forth above unresolved. It will also serve to undermine all existing arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians that are currently the basis for cooperation between the two parties in forty spheres of civil activity. Thus, premature recognition of a Palestinian state could threaten the current state of economic stability and growth in the area, not to mention the improved security and relative quiet. Moreover, premature recognition could bring about a snowball effect in other regional conflicts.
Importantly, it should be noted that, under existing agreements, the PA exercises varying degrees of control over only parts of the West Bank and does not have effective control over the Gaza Strip, even though Israel withdrew completely from this area six years ago. There are serious implications:
• Given the recent reconciliation between the Fatah (Palestinian Authority) and Hamas factions, the premature recognition of a Palestinian State could mean a de facto recognition of Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip
• Hamas has been outlawed in various legal regimes throughout the world, including the US and EU, and rejects outright the Quartet Principles (recognition of Israel’s right to exist; acceptance of existing agreements; and the denunciation of violence) and calls for Israel’s destruction.
In short, premature recognition would leave most, if not all, major issues unresolved; it would add fuel to the already fiery conflict; it would serve as a reward of unilateralism, rejectionism, and even quite possibly terrorism; and it would be a slap in the face to those that embrace an approach that advocates the mutually negotiated resolution of the conflict. If the goal of the international community is to bring about a real and lasting end to the conflict, it should encourage a mutually-agreed, bilateral approach. Unilaterally imposed initiatives will only bring the parties further apart then ever before, not closer together.
Actions You Can Take
Please visit the Federation website. On the homepage, click Programs and then the JCRC tab to access several ways to make a difference at the United Nations by signing a petition and writing letters.
And for more frequent updates on UDI, as well as a range of information and fun videos about Israel, please visit and subscribe to our JCRC blog, The Real Israel Blog.
Brought to you by:
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)
Jewish Federation of Springfield, Illinois