Powerful symbolic value: On the recognition of Palestine

The recognition of Palestine by more nations is an indictment of Israel 

Updated - May 24, 2024 07:57 am IST

Published - May 24, 2024 12:20 am IST

The announcement by Ireland, Norway, and Spain, of their intent to formally recognise the state of Palestine, next week, is one more important sign of the changing tide of international opinion that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot afford to ignore. In just the past month, in the UN General Assembly, 143 countries, including India, passed a resolution calling for the recognition of the Palestinian state by the UN Security Council, where the U.S. has vetoed such a move. Earlier this week, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor moved applications for arrest warrants for Mr. Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for operations after October 7 in Gaza as well as the Hamas leadership for the terror attack that killed 1,200 in Israel, terming these as “war crimes”. On May 24, the International Court of Justice will pronounce another verdict in the petition by South Africa calling for additional measures in the prosecution of Israel for “genocide”. The latest decision by the three countries, that have been vocal in their criticism of Israel — they join eight EU members that have already recognised Palestinian statehood — may not materially change the situation on the ground. But it is meant to be what the Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris referred to as an “act of powerful political and symbolic value” to Israel, especially as it essays what could be the “final assault” on Rafah. While practically every country has condemned Hamas’s terror attacks, Mr. Harris said it would be a mistake to ignore the legitimate Palestinian government in the West Bank, saying that “Hamas is not the Palestinian people”. Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that the move aimed to support “moderate forces that are on a retreating front in a protracted and cruel conflict”. Spain’s action followed its denial of port facilities to a Danish-flagged ship with explosive material from India meant for Israel, which it said was a firm policy now. Israel’s response, however, has been to recall its envoys and summon the envoys of all three countries for a dressing down.

In the immediate future, the multiple messages of near-global consensus are meant to push Israel’s government to rethink its plans for Rafah, to stop more civilian losses, and to allow humanitarian aid free access into Gaza. But in the longer term, they are meant to remind Mr. Netanyahu that even if he has disassociated himself from the “two-state solution”, this is something the world believes is the road map to peace. By turning deaf to these messages, Mr. Netanyahu is only furthering his isolation, especially from an international community that came out in full sympathy on October 7, but has grown increasingly horrified by the military campaign since then.

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