Ireland, Norway and Spain recognise Palestine as an Independent State

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Trapped in Gaza
Trapped in Gaza

A Flicker of Hope Amidst Gaza’s Agony

As the genocidal onslaught in Gaza grinds on, a rare glimmer of hope has pierced the darkness. In a diplomatic gambit aimed at forcing accountability, Ireland, Norway and Spain have officially recognised the State of Palestine, with more European nations expected to follow suit imminently.

The tripartite recognition not only lends vital legitimacy to Palestinian sovereignty, but also represents a stinging rebuke of Israel’s unconscionable assault on the beleaguered Gaza Strip. With over 35,000 Palestinian casualties to date by UN estimates, the vicious operation has prompted growing outrage worldwide.

By granting formal statehood, these nations have thrown down a gauntlet to Israel’s far-right government and its enablers. No longer can Netanyahu’s regime credibly dismiss Palestinian demands for self-determination as mere posturing. Faced with a swelling alliance defying its reflexive “terrorism” smears, the belligerent right-wing coalition may finally face serious pressure to rein in its remorseless campaign of destruction.

gaza israel maps

Crucially, the recognition cements the international consensus around the two-state solution as “the only credible path to peace,” in the words of Irish PM Simon Harris. It repudiates Israel’s entrenchment of its apartheid-like occupation and further dismantling of Palestinian land and rights.

For too long, the inter-Palestinian divide between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority has provided convenient camouflage for Israel’s atrocities. Formal statehood recognition strikes a powerful blow against this bad-faith pretext for perpetual subjugation and slaughter.

Norway, which has played a pivotal role in Middle East diplomacy over the years, hosting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at the beginning of the 1990s which led to the Oslo accords, said recognition was needed to support moderate voices amid the Gaza war.

“In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike: two states, living side by side, in peace and security,” said Norway’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, accused Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of carrying out a “massacre” in Gaza and jeopardising the two-state solution. “We have to use all the political resources at our disposal to say, loud and clear, that we’re not going to allow the possibility of the two-state solution to be destroyed by force because it’s the only just and sustainable solution to this terrible conflict.”

The Irish prime minister, Simon Harris, said he expected other countries to join Ireland, Spain and Norway in recognising a Palestinian state in the coming weeks. He said Ireland was unequivocal in fully recognising Israel and its right to exist “securely and in peace with its neighbours”, and he called for all the hostages in Gaza to be immediately returned.

Of course, mere recognition remains an inadequate response to the existential urgency in Gaza. While welcome symbolically and diplomatically, it does not directly impede Israel’s ability to prosecute its annihilationist war. Indeed, Netanyahu’s vicious dismissal of this development as “rewarding terrorism” lays bare the Israeli far-right’s unwillingness to abandon its unilateral bloodlust.

But coupled with growing global civil society pressure and the looming spectre of international legal accountability, this act of European solidarity could catalyse real-world consequences. Pressure must build for an enforced ceasefire, reconstruction aid for the ravaged territory, and a final negotiated settlement securing statehood and sovereignty for the long-oppressed Palestinian populace.

Around 144 out of 193 member-states of the United Nations have already taken the step, including most of the global south, Russia, China and India, but only a handful of 27 EU members have so far done so, Sweden being the first in 2014. The United Kingdom and Australia have indicated in recent months that they could soon follow suit.

Palestinians seek statehood in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital.

Israel’s staunchest ally, the United States, last month vetoed an attempt at United Nations recognition for a Palestinian state, arguing that a two-state solution can only come from direct negotiations between the parties.

For the brutalised, displaced, and immiserated masses huddling amid Gaza’s smouldering ruins, moves like this offer a solitary ray of hope. Recognition of their national identity and human dignity has been far too long in coming. Every honest observer should wish them enduring deliverance from their seemingly ceaseless torment.

This recognition of Palestine as a state comes as the International Criminal Court prosecutors seek arrest warrants against the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin, Netanyahu and Hamas leaders for crimes against humanity.

Mere recognition, however, pales in comparison to the gravity of the crimes alleged by the International Criminal Court. Prosecutor Karim Khan seeks arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar and their top brass for unconscionable depravities like extermination, deliberately starving civilians, and directly targeting non-combatants. For the brutalised, displaced masses suffocating in Gaza’s rubble-strewn hellscape, acts of accountability – not mere symbolism – may be their only hope of escaping this genocidal nightmare.

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