BERIL – Recognizing Palestine

Recognizing PalestineThe Swedish government on Thursday officially recognized the State of Palestine, following through on a pledge made by the countryand#39s new prime minister at his inauguration this month. Thus the Scandinavian country became one of several other European Union members to do so.

The difference is those EU countries were all from the former Eastern Bloc and had recognized Palestine before they joined the EU. None of the andquotWesternandquot and prominent members of the EU such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain or the United Kingdom have recognized Palestine yet.

As a matter of fact, almost two-thirds of the world has already recognized Palestine. It is probably more interesting to look at those who have not recognized it yet rather than listing the 135 countries that have done so.

In Africa, Cameroon and Eritrea do not recognize Palestine in Asia, there is Myanmar, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore and in non-EU Europe, there is Moldova, Kosovo and Armenia For these last three countries, given their past, it is really hard to understand why they have chosen not to recognize Palestine. One canand#39t say andquotbecause of Russian pressure,andquot because Moscow has already recognized the State of Palestine.

In Latin America, almost all the countries have recognized Palestine except Mexico and Colombia The point, however, is that the most influential countries of the international system — the US, Canada, Australia and Western European countries — do not yet recognize Palestine.In other words, 135 countries consider Palestine a state, but most of the worldand#39s great powers oppose this.

In fact the Palestinian issue is a classic example of international power struggles, so it is only expected that the US and its closest allies do not recognize a state that is recognized by Russia and China Until there is a substantial change altering the present balance of power, those andquotWesternandquot countries will not change their position on Palestine.The list of countries that have recognized Palestine provides a good picture of global power balances.

Nevertheless, those who have recognized Palestine have not established the usual diplomatic relations with it. Maybe we can talk about a andquotpassive recognitionandquot in that case.

Those 135 countries have not opened an embassy in the Palestinian territories, for example. Some of them have diplomatic representations under various names, but most of them have preferred to accredit their ambassador to Egypt — who is in Cairo, naturally — as their ambassador to Palestine as well.

In other words, those countries have given their recognition but prefer not to establish normal diplomatic ties with Palestine.So what is the purpose of recognizing Palestine? We have another question today as well: Which Palestine do you recognize? In other words, do you prefer the Hamas-led Gaza or the West Bank under Fatahand#39s control? It is of course obvious how hard it is to open an embassy in Palestine as this countryand#39s borders are not yet clearEven in Israel, which enjoys wider recognition than Palestine, the location of embassies has always been a problem The country says its capital is Jerusalem, but this is not accepted by the international community and all embassies are thus situated in Tel Aviv.

Israel would probably prefer to have those embassies in Jerusalem but accepts the de facto situation. As for Palestine, where exactly can one build an embassy?Long story short, even though recognition is an important diplomatic step, it is definitely not sufficient as a political gesture.

One needs concrete steps to make sure that recognition really means something. Those who pretend to accept Palestine and Israel as equal players should first of all treat Palestine as an equal diplomatic partner.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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