Recognition of a Palestinian state: what exactly does it mean? | Middle East, the eternal conflict

With the war raging in the Gaza Strip for seven months, the prospect of the creation of a Palestinian state has never been bleak on the ground. But in diplomatic spheres, particularly in the West, the debate around the recognition of Palestine as an independent state is indeed on the table.

To date, 139 countries out of the 193 member states of theUN − mainly Arab countries, but also Asian, African and South American countries − recognize the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

On May 21, three European countries will be added to this list, namely Spain, Ireland and Slovenia.

In the European Union – apart from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus which had done so before joining the bloc – only Sweden, which has a large Palestinian community, made in 2014.

The United States, Canada, Australia and several Western European countries, including France and Germany, as well as South Korea and Japan, do not recognize the State of Palestine, but still maintain diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority.


Open in full screen mode

Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour speaks to representatives of the organization’s member states ahead of the vote to grant more rights to Palestinians, May 10, 2024.


On Friday, Canada said it was ready for a change of course in its foreign policy in the Middle East. Justin Trudeau’s government would be prepared to recognize the existence of the Palestinian state unilaterally, without Israeli approval, if the Palestinian state demonstrates good governance and Hamas is no longer part of the equation.

A political impact

But what does recognition of a Palestinian state mean in concrete terms?

According to Douglas Proudfoot, former Canadian ambassador to Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, a recognition will not have magical effects on the ground.

The recognition of the State of Palestine is purely symbolic. That said, sometimes symbols are very important.

A quote from Douglas Proudfoot, former Canadian ambassador to the Palestinian territories

The impact will be more of a political nature, explains the former Canadian diplomat who was stationed in Ramallah between 2016 and 2019.

This puts some pressure on Israel, but it is not by recognizing a State that we create a Statehe adds.


Open in full screen mode

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators face pro-Israeli protesters in downtown Montreal, May 14, 2024

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

According to him, the change in Canadian policy in this debate is importantbecause it puts Canada in the right directiongiven that the recognition of a Palestinian state is a first step towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It also sends a message to Israeli authorities, he said, that patience has limits.

I am confident that recognition [d’un État palestinien] will eventually happen, because there is no other solution than the two-state solution. All other solutions are impossible.

A quote from Douglas Proudfoot, former Canadian ambassador to the Palestinian territories

Divided leadership

On Friday, a majority of member countries of theUN voted in favor of granting additional rights and privileges for the Palestinians, allowing them, for example, to submit proposals and amendments directly, without going through a third country, or to sit among the Member States in alphabetical order. Canada, however, abstained from taking part in this symbolic vote.

Israel, whose government rejects the two-state solution, harshly criticized the resolution. The Israeli ambassador toUNGilad Erdan, accused the General Assembly of giving state rights to an entity already partially controlled by terrorists of Hamas.

>>A man holding up a portrait of the Hamas leader.>>

Open in full screen mode

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, accused the General Assembly of “promoting the establishment of a terrorist Palestinian state led by the Hitler of our time”, holding up a portrait of the Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, May 10, 2024.


The Palestinian leadership has been divided since 2007, after fratricidal clashes between the Fatah movement and Hamas. Thus, it is the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah), which exercises limited power in the West Bank, territory occupied since 1967 by Israel, and it is Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.

The former Canadian ambassador to the West Bank categorically refutes the idea that recognition of a Palestinian state will benefit Hamas. No it is wrong. People who say that don’t understand the situationsaid Mr. Proudfoot.

Hamas does not favor a two-state solution, so recognition of Palestine as a state is not something Hamas desires.

A quote from Douglas Proudfoot, former Canadian ambassador to the Palestinian territories

Hamas will be cornered

Political scientist Sami Aoun also believes that recognition of a Palestinian state will rather embarrass Hamas. According to him, the Islamist movement wants a long truce with Israelis, but still refuses to recognize Israel as a state.

Start of widget. Skip the widget?

End of widget. Return to start of widget?

Hamas will he be able to come out in favor of a two-state solution? Until now it sails, it remains ambiguoussays Mr. Aoun. Hamas will be cornered if a Palestinian state is officially recognized by the international community, according to him.

There is also the regional dimension to take into consideration, Hamas being dependent on Iran, recalls the professor emeritus of the University of Sherbrooke and director of the Observatory on the Middle East and North Africa of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair.

Hamas’ position will also depend on the outcome of the war with Israel, he still believes.

If the war ends with Hamas still active militarily, then there is little hope that it will make concessions. In this eventuality, the Israelis also risk being more rigid in their position.

A quote from Sami Aoun, researcher specializing in the Middle East

According to the researcher, there needs to be an inflection point to achieve a two-state solution. On the one hand, the Palestinian Authority needs to regain control over Hamas and, on the other, there needs to be a more centrist government in place in Israel, he said.

Since 2012, Palestine has been considered a non-UN observer state. Palestinians do not have the right to vote on resolutions in the General Assembly, but they can have access to UN agencies and international treaties.

And since 2015, Palestine has been one of the 123 member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which aims to prosecute the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

>>Antony Blinken shakes hands with Mahmoud Abbas.>>

Open in full screen mode

The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken shaking hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah, February 7, 2024.

Photo: Associated Press / Mark Schiefelbein

No interlocutors credible

Political scientist Michael Young is also of the opinion that there are currently no interlocutors credible on both sides of the borders. […] and that the Palestinian Authority has lost all credibility”,”text”:”Today, the main problem is that the Israelis refuse the very concept of a Palestinian state[…] and that the Palestinian Authority has lost all credibility”}}”>Today, the main problem is that Israelis refuse the very concept of a Palestinian state. […] and that the Palestinian Authority has lost all credibilityhe said.

He also wonders what a possible Palestinian state could look like, especially since the West Bank is divided by more than a hundred Israeli settlements deemed illegal under international law and the Gaza Strip is in ruins.

The analyst at the Carnegie Center for the Middle East also underlines the importance of the role of the United States, which has on numerous occasions attempted to establish peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Washington opposes any recognition of a Palestinian state outside of a bilateral agreement between the Palestinians and their Israeli ally. The United States, which in April vetoed the admission of Palestine as a full member state to theUNemphasize that American legislation would require them to cut their funding toUN in the event of Palestinian accession outside of such a bilateral agreement.

>>A man raising his right hand in a meeting.>>

Open in full screen mode

US representative vetoing Palestinian membership as a full member of the UN. In 1976, the United States opposed Vietnam’s membership.

Photo: afp via getty images / ANGELA WEISS

Unfortunately, as long as Israel opposes a two-state solution and as long as the Americans say that the Israelis must agree to the accession of a Palestinian state, we will remain stuck.

A quote from Michael Young, analyst at the Carnegie Middle East Center

Mr. Young believes, however, that even if it is symbolic, the vote at the General Assembly of theUN Friday goes put pressure on Washington. Eventually, Americans do not want to be isolated and would like to see a two-state solution come to fruition. They could use this vote as leverage to put more pressure on the Israelishe said again.

Same conclusion from Sami Aoun, who emphasizes that the United States is the alone capable of reassuring Israelis and making them understand that recognition of a Palestinian state is not necessarily a Source of threat to their existence.

The United States remains the most effective mediator in the Middle East, he concludes. […] especially after[l’attaque du Hamas] the 7thOctober.”,”text”:”They are the only ones who can offer a security umbrella to the Israelis[…] especially after[l’attaque du Hamas] October 7.”}}”>They are the only ones who can offer a security umbrella to the Israelis […] especially after [l’attaque du Hamas] on October 7.



PREV Spain welcomes 16.1 million tourists in 1Q 2024, a record
NEXT Social Democratic MEP beaten in Germany: teenager goes to police