Spain’s former PM: Recognising a Palestinian state will thwart peace

By José María Aznar, former PM of Spain, for The Times (Oct 26):

“Recognising a Palestinian state now will thwart hopes for peace”

Hamas and Islamic State are part of the same Islamist front

The Palestinian state doesn’t exist yet and the only structures in place that may resemble a functioning state are controlled by the terrorist group Hamas.

Nevertheless many countries are today indulging in a “recognition now” policy towards a putative Palestine.

On October 3 the Swedish government announced that it would recognise Palestine as a state. And the British parliament voted on October 13 to approve a motion recognising Palestine “alongside Israel”. Although more than half of MPs did not cast a vote, the result was conclusive: 274 to 12.

We should expect similar moves to these across Europe. No matter how well intentioned these initiatives are, recognising a Palestinian state now is inappropriate, counterproductive and unwarranted. It will not promote peace and it will not boost a negotiated solution. This is why: First, recognising Palestine will induce the Palestinians to stray from a negotiated solution, given the fact that a hard line has got them this far.

Second, feel-good statements will not change reality on the ground; rather they will encourage the Palestinian Authority to continue a static strategy in the negotiations — thereby promoting stalemate in the talks. The Oslo Accords, signed by both sides, commit them to negotiation as the way to reach an agreement.

Declarations such as these will only turn the path outlined by Oslo into a chimera, pre-empting the peace it is supposed to produce.

Third, these initiatives unfairly put pressure only on Israel. The Jewish state, harassed by neighbours and terrorist groups, has persistently offered concessions to achieve a fair agreement, only to see the Authority refuse any compromise.

It was Mahmoud Abbas who failed to accept the recent US framework document accepted by Israel. It was Mr Abbas who demanded unacceptable concessions from Jerusalem, and it was Mr Abbas who reached a unity agreement with Hamas, just three months before the Islamist group began a massive series of rocket attacks on Israeli cities.

Fourth, Israel is today a bulwark against jihadism and western countries need the support of Israel against this and other threats to global security. Recognising Palestine as a state is also an implicit approval of the agreement reached by Fatah and Hamas. As Hamas and Isis are parts of the same Islamist front, the West should not legitimise an entity that would be formed by one of them…

José María Aznar is a former prime minister of Spain and founder of the Friends of Israel Initiative. The full article and a list of signatories can be found at www.thetimes.co.uk/opinion

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