Rewarding Terror - Several European States Look To Recognize "Palestine"
By Drieu Godefridi/Gatestone InstituteDecember 06, 2023
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There are whispers in the corridors of power that Belgium, like Norway and Spain, is preparing to recognize a "Palestinian State". This move seems questionable, on both legal and political grounds.
The first conditions for recognizing a state are territory and state authority. International law defines a sovereign state as an established territorial unit, within which its laws apply to a permanent population, and which is constituted by institutions through which it exercises authority and effective power.
In the case of a "Palestinian State", there is no territory on which even the Palestinians agree. Indeed, the charter of Hamas -- designated as a terrorist organization by many countries in the West, and which has reigned unchallenged in the Gaza Strip since 2007 when it forcibly expelled the Palestinian Authority, in part by throwing its members off 15-storey buildings -- calls for the "liberation" of "every inch of Palestine" through jihad.
The Palestinian Authority also lays claim over all of the territory, including all of Israel (see also here, here, here and here). The territory of the "Palestinian State" is therefore not contested at the margins; it is contested in substance. At present, no one, and certainly not the Palestinians themselves, can say what the boundaries of the territory they are claiming are, even approximately, apart from the openly desired entire territory of Israel.
In addition, the Palestinian Authority is counting on the Palestine Liberation Organization's 1974 "Ten Point Plan" (also known as the "phased plan") for the "comprehensive liberation" of all the land stretching "from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea" -- a euphemism for the elimination of Israel. The plan calls for the PLO to use whatever territory it is offered as a base of operations to get the rest.
Nor is there any constituted state authority. Or rather, there are two. In Gaza, Hamas has governed since 2007. In the Palestinian-populated areas of Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority dominates. These two authorities do not recognize each other, so much so that they went to war. Between 2007 and 2008, hundreds of cadres and activists were killed in clashes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip. An estimated 600 Hamas political prisoners are being held in Palestinian Authority jails.
So, what is this enigmatic "authority" that should be recognized? The Palestinian Authority, which has no legitimacy, no representatives in Gaza and is hated by a large number of its own people? Or Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, is a terrorist organization and has just perpetrated the worst act of mass murder against Jews since the Shoah?
Does Belgium realize that recognizing any kind of "authority" in these conditions is tantamount to recognizing either a terrorist organization or the Palestinian Authority, whose authority in Gaza is a pure myth, or a mixture of the two that has no relevance on the ground?
In strict international law, it makes no sense to recognize a "Palestinian State" that does not exist in any of its fundamental components. How can one justify recognizing a myth such as the Palestinian State, while at the same time as refusing to recognize a democratic "State of Taiwan," which is perfectly constituted and has been for decades? It's all very well claiming to be governed by international law, but it is even better to be consistent in respecting its categories.
Another problem is that of "Palestinian refugees". It is estimated that there are two million "Palestinian refugees" recognized as such by the United Nations currently living in the West Bank and Gaza. The refugee issue is one of the most sensitive in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Five million Palestinian Arabs who are currently registered as "Palestine refugees" - the two million in the West Bank and Gaza, plus two million in Jordan and another million in Syria and Lebanon - are demanding to "return" to what they claim is their historic homeland.
If these five million Palestinians were to join the two million or so Palestinian Arabs who are already citizens of Israel, there would be a massive demographic change, as Einat Wilf points out. The Jews of Israel would likely be relegated to minority status. This is why Israelis have always rejected the Palestinians' claimed "right of return". Yet Palestinians insist that this is a fundamental requirement of any peace agreement.
Recognizing a "Palestinian State" means putting an end to the myth of refugees already living in these territories. You cannot be a refugee from Palestine and live in a Palestinian State at the same time. If Gaza and the West Bank become "Palestine," then the millions of Palestinians living there cease to be refugees. Pretending to recognize a "Palestinian State" while maintaining the myth of refugees betrays the inherently political and hostile nature of this recognition of a phantom "Palestinian State".
Moreover, according to many commentators, there already is a Palestinian State: it is called Jordan.
Which brings us to the heart of the matter: Belgium's possible recognition of a "Palestinian State" makes no sense in terms of international law. It comes, in reality, less as the result of a desire to help the Palestinians -- whose lives will not be improved by it -- than of a fierce and increasingly undisguised hostility towards the State of Israel, and most likely also Jews.
Belgium, Norway and Spain would do well to come to their senses. Recognizing a Palestinian state with no authority, no realistic territorial demands and no acceptable leadership -- and with a long-term, outspoken desire to militarize and destroy its neighbor Israel -- right after a jihadist pogrom against Jews, will not add to the happiness of any of the parties involved, or, for that matter, anyone else