PA honor guard.
(photo credit: Majdi Mohammed/AP)
According to the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States,
which is now part of customary law and therefore binding on all countries, a
state must possess a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and
a capacity to enter into relationships with other states.
RELATED:Palestinians may ask UN to recognize state in '67 bordersAbbas: What Israel calls itself is none of our business
the convention states that “the political existence of the state is independent
of recognition by other states.”
Thus, there is nothing in international
law to prevent the Palestinian Authority from unilaterally declaring itself an
The question is whether other states will recognize it
as such. In theory, states will only recognize a Palestinian state if it
fulfills the criteria set down in the Montevideo Convention.
Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and current head of the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, states will, at least in theory, have
difficulty recognizing a Palestinian state because it does not meet key criteria
of the convention.
For example, the Palestinians themselves are in
disagreement over what the territory of Palestine should be.
leaders have mentioned many possibilities, including the 1947 partition plan
dividing the Land of Israel into a Jewish and an Arab state, the 1949 armistice
lines at the end of the War of Independence, and others.
Secondly, the PA
does not effectively govern many of the Palestinian parts of the West Bank
because according to the Oslo Accords, it shares many responsibilities with
Israel. Furthermore, it has no control over Gaza.
Another problem is that
according to the Oslo Accords, an international agreement that is still binding,
the Palestinian Authority is prohibited from conducting its own foreign
Be that as it may, the more than 200 sovereign states of the
world will largely decide whether or not to recognize a Palestinian state on the
basis of their individual national interests and ideological
Israel will not be able to do much, if anything, to prevent
other states from recognizing a Palestinian state.
Gold told The
that the Palestinians have another option, at least in theory.
The Security Council is the UN organ that admits states to the organization. The
council could pass a resolution declaring that a Palestinian state exists and
that member states of the UN should recognize it on a bilateral
The chances of this happening, however, are questionable, since
each of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the US, Britain,
France, Russia and China, have veto power over all resolutions presented to the
Russia and China might be concerned with the precedent the
Palestinian move would have for Chechnya or Tibet.
For that reason,
neither recognized Kosovo in 2008.
The resolutions of the UN General
Assembly, a body that is overwhelmingly friendly to the Palestinian Authority,
are nonbinding and have less impact. However, such a move might prepare the
groundwork for the presentation of a similar resolution in the Security
According to Gold, the biggest problem facing the PA in
unilaterally declaring an independent state is the commitment it made in the
1995 Interim Agreement, Article 31, Paragraph 7, which says, “Neither side shall
initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.