Editorial: Recognizing ‘Palestine’

Colombia is not the first country in S. America to recognize Palestinian statehood; on the contrary, Colombia is the last country on the continent to recognize Palestinian statehood.

August 14, 2018 22:02
3 minute read.
Editorial: Recognizing ‘Palestine’

A student supporting Hamas holds a Palestinian flag in a rally during an election campaign for the student council at the Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 26, 2016. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)


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We can now add Colombia to the list.

Four days before the country’s president was to leave office and unbeknown to Israel, Juan Manuel Santos took a secret and dramatic step, and “decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state.” Colombia asked the Palestinians to keep the news a secret until after the swearing in of Colombia’s new president, Ivan Duque.

What Palestinian state did Santos recognize, exactly? The one in the West Bank, or in Gaza? One with borders? An army? A capital? Or was Colombia just paying homage to the ongoing dysfunctional kleptocracy fanning itself on the veranda in Ramallah?
Colombia now becomes country No. 137 of the 193-member states of the United Nations to recognize a so-called “State of Palestine.” The question is: toward what end?

Colombia is not the first country in South America to recognize Palestinian statehood; on the contrary, Colombia is the last country on the continent to recognize Palestinian statehood. Hardly surprising. South America has long been pro-Palestinian, blinded by an historical affinity toward so-called revolutionaries in the grand tradition of Simón Bolívar, Emiliano Zapata and Che Guevara – but unable to see the truth.

What was surprising in Colombia’s recognition of some nebulous state called Palestine was its reason for doing so: “We believe that direct negotiation is the best way to reach a lasting and fair solution to this conflict, which will allow both nations and their people to coexist peacefully.”

If that’s so, then why the premature declaration? Does such a move spur Israel to a direct negotiation? With the Palestinians’ reaction, we are witness to another delusional vision of what such proclamations accomplish. The Palestinian Diplomatic Mission in Colombia said on its Facebook page that “the Palestinian people and their government were profoundly grateful” and “thank the Colombian government for making this decision. We are certain it will contribute significantly towards generating the necessary conditions in the search for peace in the Middle East.”

How exactly does it do so? Is Colombia expecting Israel to now grab a phone and book a conference room in Geneva to get the ball rolling on talks?

The Israeli embassy in Bogota was furious, issuing an angry statement in Spanish saying it was “very surprised and deeply disappointed” that Colombia recognized Palestine, and also “by the way the decision was taken, without giving prior notice to a close ally like Israel.”

By making a declarative sentence that proclaims an imaginary space in the ether a state – no facts on the ground, nothing based on reality – all 137 countries are in fact directly hurting the chances for any meaningful dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.
This has been going on now for 30 years. On November 15, 1988, the Palestinian National Council – sitting not in “Palestine” but in Algiers, Algeria – proclaimed the establishment of the State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital. Those 137 United Nations countries recognizing “Palestine” are the perfect representatives of that body: a place that has failed in its mission, a self-serving, hypocritical and corrupt organization that accomplishes nothing more than to promote an ongoing Israel-bashing jubilee. Instead of encouraging peace and stability, it advances false dreams and illusions that do nothing to advance security or build a normal life for the two peoples living here.

No, peace won’t be made by unilaterally recognizing “Palestine” as a state.

We are encouraged by the new president who took office last Tuesday. After he won the election, Duque spoke of the possibility of moving the country’s embassy to Jerusalem. We welcome such a move; it recognizes reality. Duque’s foreign minister, Carlos Holmes, said he would review the declaration by Santos, and we hope that he is able to rescind that cynical political maneuver.

As for the UN itself, we believe what MK Michael Oren tweeted on Sunday: “137 countries recognized “Palestine” and now Palestine’s delegation is demanding Israel’s eviction from the UN. The remaining 56 nations must not fall into the same trap. The others should be ashamed.”

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