It’s Long Past Time To Recognise Palestine

MPs will vote tomorrow on whether or not to recognise the State of Palestine.

Both legally and politically, the international community has overwhelmingly endorsed the Palestinians’ right to national self-determination and designated the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza as the territories in which that right should be exercised. In the 1990s an interim Palestinian administrative authority was established pending a final settlement of the conflict. Diplomatic recognition would seem the obvious next step.

The most plausible argument against runs as follows. A peaceful settlement of the conflict requires both Israel and the Palestinians to make difficult compromises through negotiations. Advance recognition of Palestine will embolden rejectionists in Israel even as it removes an incentive for the Palestinians to compromise, and therefore amounts to a well-intentioned blow to the prospects for an agreement.

This argument assumes that Palestinians need further incentive to compromise, and that pressure on Israel will harden its position. Neither premise is consistent with the record.

The Palestinian leadership has called for peace on the basis of the international consensus two-state settlement for decades. Indeed, it has gone well beyond this, offering Israel a deal in which the majority of Israel’s illegal settlers would remain in situunder Israeli sovereignty, in exchange for land swaps of equal size and value in proximity of the swapped territory.

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