If anyone believed that maintaining close and friendly relations with Israel was ipso facto incompatible with support for Palestinian national aspirations, they need only look to Cyprus.
On Friday 8 February Cyprus upgraded the status of its Palestinian Authority (PA) diplomatic representation to that of embassy, and the head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission to Cyprus, Walid Al-Hassan, became a fully-fledged ambassador. “All official correspondence will now be done in the name of the State of Palestine," he informed the world’s media. “Cyprus is the first European state to upgrade Palestinian status since the UN vote."
Until PA President Mahmoud Abbas succeeded in upgrading the Palestinians’ UN status to “non-member observer state” in November 2012, the broader Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” was, by general agreement, governed by the Oslo Accords. In accordance with those undertakings, signed in 1993 and 1995, both Israel and the Palestinians had agreed that a final status settlement would be negotiated between them. It is, therefore, a fair assumption that Abbas’s UN initiative amounted to turning his back on the Accords − and equally that the UN General Assembly, in its wisdom, had done likewise.
Yet both the General Assembly’s vote, and Cyprus’s subsequent upgrading of the PA’s diplomatic status are, in legal terms, merely cosmetic − they do nothing to change the status of the PA in international law. Nor does Cyprus’s initiative represent any sudden shift in policy, for it has always supported Palestinian sovereign aspirations. It was as far back as 1988 that Cyprus formally recognized Palestine as a state within the 1967 boundaries, while in May 2011 it upgraded what was then simply “the general delegation of Palestine” in Cyprus to the status of “diplomatic mission.”