On the growing trend to recognize the state of Palestine

Maria Dubovikova
Maria Dubovikova

Maria Dubovikova

By : Maria Dubovikova

On Sept. 30, Sweden recognized the occupied state of Palestine, becoming the first EU member to do so. Prior to the establishment of the union, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic had already recognized Palestine.

Sweden is the 135th country to recognize Palestine.

This humane step forward towards the final settlement of the longstanding conflict was followed immediately by Israel recalling its ambassador to Sweden.

Sweden’s move was explained by its prime minister, Stefan Lovfen, who said: “Our decision comes at a critical time because over the last year we have seen how the peace talks have stalled, how decisions over new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have complicated a two-state solution.”

The violence that returned to Gaza this year also served as one of the turning points for Sweden, prompting it to officially recognize Palestine.

The recent news shows that it could become a new and very significant trend in the Europe:

Spanish Prime minister Garcia Margallo affirmed that his government would consider recognizing Palestine; however, no time frame was set as Spanish leaders still believe in the importance of negotiations between the sides and that a two-state solution should result from such talks. They consider the symbolic recognition of the Palestinian State as a last resort and favor talks that will push the rival sides toward a needed agreement.

Earlier in October, British legislators voted in favor of a “non-building agreement to recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing two-state solution.”

French parliamentarians will hold a vote on Nov. 29 under the title “the Assembly calls on the French government to recognize the state of Palestine as a tool for a final settlement.”

Several questions arise over this new “recognition rally” trend.

“Is it too soon for this Western rally to recognize the state of Palestine?” some politicians and experts asked. Or, rather, is the move several decades too late?

Obviously, if the West had a more long-sighted policy, another view of the problem through the instrument of recognition as support to the two-state solution, then the conflict could have been settled already.

However, despite the peace talks, the West was not very troubled with the fate of the Palestinian people.

But the enormous human tragedy as it has been in recent years, as well as the entire deterioration of the region’s stability following the spread of ISIS, finally made the West bother about the settlement of the conflict through all possible means – the sooner the better.

Why now? After this year’s escalation in violence; the Israeli pursuit of settlement construction on occupied territories amid talks that later collapsed; the formation of a Palestinian national unity cabinet; amid the escalation in the region following the creation and bolstering of ISIS; after all this the West apparently found out that now was the time for the conflict to be settled and not allow it to turn into something absolutely new and totally unmanageable following the extremists’ influence.

Sweden, France and the UK: why was the “recognition rally” started by these countries specifically?

There is a factor, not the key one but nevertheless one that is significant, that must not be ignored and has influenced a perceptual change of the conflict.

France, Sweden and the United Kingdom have hosted significant Arab migrant populations for quite some time, long enough for them to make an impact on the political establishments and decision-making processes in these countries.

Obviously, if the West had a more long-sighted policy, another view of the problem through the instrument of recognition as support to the two-state solution, then the conflict could have been settled already.

Maria Dubovikova

France itself has both the largest Jewish and Muslim (primarily Arab Muslim) communities in Europe. Tensions between the two communities follow an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East. We can note here the rallies in support of Palestine during this year’s escalation that ended in violent clashes. The tension prompts some Jews to leave the country amid fears of the rise of anti-Semitism. Even now the French Jewish community fears that in the event France recognizes Palestine, there will be an unfettered rise of anti-Semitism. Furthermore, politicians of Arab origin are now more commonplace than in the past, frequently occupying important political posts.

What could the new possible “recognition rally” change?

In November 2012 the U.N. General Assembly voted to change Palestine’s status to “non-member observer state.” Did this decision change greatly the fate of Palestine? Did it stop Israel’s expansionist policy? Did it make the parties search for a deal over the problem of occupied territories or the status of East Jerusalem? It did not.

A wave of recognition will hardly change Israel’s policy. It has gotten used to being under the protection of the United States, even though the current American president does not have a soft spot for the Israeli prime minister, and to always getting away unpunished, acting without constraint and guided exclusively by its own interests.

The turning point could be the recognition of Palestine within pre-1967 borders by the United States. But this is still a hypothetical. Nevertheless, the fact that European states have started to reflect on the possibility of recognition to push the peace process forward is a positive trend for the future of Palestine. The support and recognition of the Palestinian state by European countries truly matters in terms of their global influence.

The more countries support the recognition movement for Palestinian in Europe, the stronger the external pressure will be on Israel to rethink its policy.

Maria Dubovikova

The increased escalation of tension between Israel and Palestine menaces not only Palestinians and Israel itself but Jewish communities all over the world as well.

The more countries support the recognition movement for Palestinian in Europe, the stronger the external pressure will be on Israel to rethink its policy.

However, we should not overestimate the potential recognition wave either. The appeal to the countries’ leaders is still far from becoming true recognition, especially taking into consideration the Jewish lobby and prudence in such a step due of U.S. policy, and, furthermore, existing fears that this gesture could do much harm to the decades-old “peace process.”

But whatever the current wave and its influence on the processes may be, the settlement of the conflict resides exclusively in a two-state solution. This is an axiom.


Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club), IMESClub Executive Director and member of the Club Council, author of several scientific articles and participant of several high level international conferences. She is a permanent member of the Think-tank under the American University in Moscow. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) (honors diploma), she had been working for three months as a trainee at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. Now she is a PhD Candidate at MGIMO (Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia). Her research field is Russian foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, the policy of France and the US towards the Mediterranean, theory of international relations, humanitarian interventions and etc. Fluently speaks and writes in French and English. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme



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